6 tips for understanding colour theory

04. A helping hand

Although there is no replacement for learning and observing, there are tools that can help you speed up your understanding of colour and give you a helping hand along the way. These can be traditional, such as colour wheels (there are many to choose from and explore for different reasons) or newer apps, like Adobe Color CC – a colour scheme generator (see below) that's extremely handy. ColorMunki offers design tools that help you extract and create colour palettes and calibrate your displays.

05. Adobe colour wheel

Adobe Color CC, part of the Creative Cloud and formerly known as Adobe Kuler, presents you with a colour wheel that contains markers, below which are a number of swatches – see the screengrab above for reference. You can choose what type of colour scheme you need from the menu, such as Analogous or Triad. Here I'm aiming for the teal and salmon colour scheme that was most obvious in the recent Transformers films.

06. Colour method

I'm setting my mode to Complementary – you can see that the blues are opposite the oranges on the colour wheel – and that will make a great start. All that needs doing now is to change the saturation using the arrow markers, and then tweak the results. You can see my approximation in the screengrab above. It really is that easy, and a great way to set a unified colour palette in your work.

Words: Rob Redman

This article originally appeared in 3D World issue 181.