Using Color in Your Fiber Project

color wheelAt some point in school, we are all taught about the color wheel.  There are primary and secondary colors and then there are complementary colors.  You can create a pleasing project by using this information alone.  Take a look at the color wheel to the right and then use the tips below when selecting colors for your project.

  1. For a more vibrant effect, choose several shades of the same color.
  2. Use a very dark color as weft against a bright color for your warp.
  3. Use white or cream with pastel colors.
  4. Use a warp color’s complimentary color as weft.
  5. When using two very different colors, only a small amount of one color will make it appear dominant.
  6. Use shiny fibers to heighten the color.
  7. Soft or hairy fibers appear duller.

For an artist, the primary and secondary colors are just the beginning.  If you want to analyze the colors used for your project, consider the following terms regarding color:

  1. Primary Color – The human eye contains three types of color receptors.  Each one responds to a different range of the color spectrum.  Called trichromats, these receptors recognize the colors red, green and blue.  However, we are taught in school that they are red, yellow and blue, so most information today regarding the color wheel will show yellow instead of green.
  2. Secondary Color – Combine and two of the primary colors and you get a secondary color.
  3. Tertiary Color – Combine a primary color with a secondary color.
  4. Complimentary Color – A pair of colors which, when combined in the right proportions, creates white or black.  On a color wheel, complimentary colors are opposite of each other.  For example red and green, or yellow and violet.
  5. Split Complimentary Color – Take one color and match it with the two colors adjacent to its complement.  For example take green and add the two colors on either side of red.  This still creates good contrast, but not as striking as the complimentary color.
  6. Analogous Color – Three or more colors that are next to each other on the color wheel.  These colors are often found in nature and are comforting to look at.
  7. Triadic Colors – Just like the primary colors, these colors form a perfect triangle on the color wheel.  Another example might be green, orange and blue-violet.
  8. Tetradic Colors – Also known as a rectangle scheme, using four colors arranged into two complementary pairs.  This color scheme works best if you choose one color to be dominant.
  9. Warm Colors – Linked to natural light, warm colors are typically associated with daylight or sunset.  Hues range from red through yellow including browns.  Warm colors are said to be active colors that stimulate and arouse the viewer.
  10. Cool Colors – Typically associated with overcast daylight.  Hues range from blue green through blue violet including gray tones.  Cool colors are said to be calm and relaxing.
  11. Neutral Colors – Considered a color with very little saturation.  Neutrals typically include: beige, ivory, grey, black, taupe and white. Neutrals are often used as contrast for other colors.





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