Color Theory: Why Bold Colors Work So Well

Whether it is in quilting or machine embroidery, have you ever looked at two color combinations and thought, “I would never put those colors together, but they look fabulous?” There is an actual science behind it and I’ll share how it works!

The Color Wheel

How you select your colors greatly impact the final project. We’re all pretty familiar with monotone colors. They are shades of the same basic color in lights, mediums, and darks. Monotone colors are great for shading but do not have much contrast.

For brights, of course, primary colors red, blue, and yellow standout.

Secondary colors are combinations of two adjacent primary colors: blue + red = purple, yellow + blue = green and yellow + red = orange.

The third grouping is tertiary colors, which combine the primary and secondary, as in blue-green, yellow-orange.

Color Combinations That Work

Colors that are opposite of each other on the color wheel are called complementary. Although they are on opposite sides, they complement each other. 

That is why shades like blue and orange go together nicely. Just as blue and orange are opposite, so are tertiary red-violet and yellow-green.

Adjacent colors on the color wheel are called analogous. These sets of three colors are adjacent to each other.