Notes on Colour

Notes from Color Harmony: Logos, an interesting little book with a lot of different color schemes in it.


In a designer’s craft, logos represent a special achievement. They are the most succinct and company vehicles we use to communicate complex messages. They must embody select and specific qualities that connect with and linger the memories of their intended audiences.

Selecting Color

When it comes to the application of color to logos, several considerations must be weighed. First among them is the general (but recently declining) requirement that a logo should work in one color. Typically, one color means black, and is based on economy more than any color theory.

The Color Wheel

Color Wheel

The color wheel is anchored by three primary colors – red, yellow, and blue – which articulate an equilateral triangle within the wheel. Complementing these colors are three secondary hues – green, violet, and orange. These form a second, opposing equilateral triangle. This geometric color structure is further augmented by a tertiary palette of six mixed hues, derived by combining the primary and secondary palettes. Together these twelve segments create a complete, graduated color wheel.

Primary Colors

Primary colors form the basis of the color spectrum. In theory, these colors can be mixed with one another to create all other colors. In practice, this is not strictly true. Inscribing an equilateral triangle within the color wheel, the primary colors of red, yellow, and blue establish the basis by which secondary and tertiary colors are defined.

Secondary Colors

Secondary colors fall on the points of a second equilateral triangle, position opposite the first. Also called complementary colors, they are formed by mixing equal parts of the primary color points they bisect:

  • orange = red + yellow
  • green = yellow + blue
  • violet = blue + red

Tertiary Colors

The segments between the primary and secondary color segments are occupied by a range of tertiary hues created by mixing one primary and one secondary color. Tertiary colors are named for the two colors used to created, with the primary color being named first (for example, blue-green or red-orange).


Monochromatic color schemes use a single hue, in combination with one or more of its tints or shades. Low in contrast, but nonetheless authoritative, these palettes can be both balanced and soothing.


Blue Monochromatic

There’s no guess work with these color schemes – simply pick a color and go.


Variant Color

Notice how a monochromatic color scheme lacks the diversity of hues that other color schemes exhibit.


Green Monochromatic

The highest amount of contrast between shades and tints of a hue utilize the full potential of a monochromatic color scheme.

OK, that’s all for this post. I don’t want to get sued!

It’s quite an interesting book, particularly for ideas, so check it out if you get a moment.


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