Strohacker Design School

The Colour Wheel

Discover How To Use The Colour Wheel To Influence Your Design Decisions

I don’t know about you, but I often forget to actively recognise the importance of colour within our world and the subsequent connotations we can draw from their influence. 

Of course, as designers, we subconsciously draw conclusions and recognise their impact, but to truly understand the importance of colour it’s important to understand the origins. 

Read on to discover the purpose of the colour wheel, the colour model options and much more!

An Introduction To Colour Models

A colour model refers to the way colours mix to create other colours and how various digital technologies interpret and use these colours. The two most common colour modules used by designers are the RGB colour module and the CMYK colour module. 


With the RGB colour module,  three colours of light (red, green, and blue) are combined to create new colour combinations. 

The RGB colour model is used in televisions, digital cameras, and video cameras to create additional colours by mixing red, green, and blue light.


The colour model CMYK is subtractive in nature. Colours like cyan, magenta, yellow, and black can be stacked to make new ones.

You’ll probably recognise this combination of colours from your Inkjet printer! The CMYK colour model is used in printers to produce all the different colours you need on paper.

What is The Colour Wheel? 

A colour wheel is an illustrated abstract organisation of colour hues around a circle that demonstrates the relationships between primary, secondary, and tertiary colours.

Breaking Down The Colour Wheel

But how does this have an impact on graphic designers? Well, The colour wheel is used by graphic designers to decide which colours go well together. The three fundamental hues — red, yellow, and blue – act as the starting point. 

As the wheel extends round, you will notice the primary and secondary colours mixing together. Red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, and red-violet are the colours in this section. 

Warm colours are on one side of the colour wheel, while cold colours are on the other. Warm colours are utilised to portray passion and intensity, while cool colours are used to create a tranquil and relaxing atmosphere.

Learn More About The Colour Wheel

Now you’ve been introduced to the different colour modules and have a better understanding of the colour wheel it’s time to transfer this knowledge into a practical design strategy.

“Did You Know? Sir Isaac Newton – yes the gravity guy – was responsible for mapping the first color wheel, back in the 17th century.”

The colour wheel can and should influence your branding decisions. You need to decide which of the different colours best reflects your brands personality. Remember, not all brands use one colour! Get creative and be inspired by what already exists. 

If you want to discover how to apply your knowledge more practically, discover the benefits of a Strohacker Design School graphic design course. We’re Adobe Approved you know!

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