Understanding color harmony: the key to aesthetically pleasing designs

Why you should consider complementary colors for maximum impact.

Color harmony is the concept of combining colors in a way that is visually pleasing and engaging. Achieving harmony in color design involves creating a balance of color that evokes a sense of aesthetic unity and satisfaction.

The Role of the Color Wheel in Creating Harmonious Designs

An essential tool in achieving color harmony is the color wheel, a visual representation of the relationship between various color hues. The positioning of colors on this wheel can guide us in developing well-coordinated and visually appealing color palettes.

Here’s an example of a color wheel:

The contrast and distinction between colors are determined by their distance from each other on the wheel. The farther apart the colors are, the more they stand out as distinct from one another.

Creating Complementary Color Schemes: A Practical Example

To select two colors that harmonize well, we should look to opposite sides of the color wheel. Let’s take light red as an example:

Complementary colors, such as these, strike a balance in our perception of the color spectrum. Each color stimulates different cones in our eyes. For instance, red, being a dominant hue, primarily stimulates the cones that perceive red light. Conversely, its complementary color, cyan (a blend of green and blue), stimulates the other two types of cones. When viewed together, all three types of cones receive stimulation, providing a balanced and pleasing perception of color.

The Intersection of Color Harmony and Accessibility

Utilizing complementary colors offers a significant advantage—enhanced accessibility for individuals with colorblindness. Let’s visualize how someone with Protanopia, a form of red-green colorblindness, perceives our color wheel:


By choosing colors from opposite sides of the color wheel, we can design graphics that are not only visually appealing but also accessible to a wider audience, including people who are colorblind. The use of complementary colors helps maintain contrast and distinction between graphic elements, ensuring that the information conveyed remains comprehensible and impactful.

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