Nippon Paint Inspiration

Colour Theory

Posted by Nippon Paint on Sep 2nd 2014

Colours affect us in numerous ways, both mentally and physically. A strong red colour has been shown to raise the blood pressure, while a blue colour has a calming effect. The calming effect of the blue can be compared to the feeling that you get when looking out at the blue ocean and the pulsating effect of red can be compared to the overwhelming rush of excitement felt when you see a red Ferrari race by! Being able to use colours consciously and harmoniously can help you create spectacular results.

The Colour Wheel

Colour Wheel

The traditional painters colour wheel is made of 12 colour families. The Primary colours are Red, Yellow and Blue. These saturated (or high chroma) colours are regarded as free from white or black and help us create the twelve colour families in their relative hues.

Mixing of any two primary colours

Mixing 2 Colours

Red, blue, or yellow makes a secondary colour.

Secondary Colours

Our secondary colours are Green, Orange and Violet. This creates six of our twelve colour families.

Balance of Colours 1

Balance of Colours 2

The balance of our twelve colour families are called the intermediate and are made by mixing each of our primary and secondary colours together.

Intermediate colours

Our primary, secondary, and intermediate colours make the twelve families.

The tertiary colours: Olive, Citron and Russet are complex colours made from the secondary colours, which while important are not included in our colour wheel.
Orange + Violet = Russet
Orange + Green =Citron
Violet + Green = Olive.


Painters and artists have been using the colour wheel as their guide to create successful colour harmonies for many centuries. based on the twelve colour families.

Adjoining Colour Family scheme


Adjoining Colour

The Monochromatic colour scheme is based on only one colour area of the colour wheel and relies on the shades and tints of that colour to create the contrast.
Expanding the colour range of the Monochromatic scheme to incorporate adjoining families − we make the more complex Analogous and Harmonies colour schemes.

Contrasting Colour Family scheme


Contrastic Colour

The complementary colour scheme is a “contrasts” colour scheme. It draws colours from the opposite sides on the colour wheel. This adding of the opposite warm and cool hues creates a dynamic colour. These schemes are tempered by using tints and shades of the colours. Because equal parts of the colours cancel each other, a harmony requires one colour area to be larger and dominant.
The split complementary is a more complex version of the complementary scheme − offsetting the contrast with the colours either side of the complementary.

Complex Contrast Family scheme

The triadic scheme is the most complex of contrasts − relying on the three colour families − spaced equidistant around the wheel. These colours, when using a high chroma level, are vibrant and energetic.