Analogous Colors: Definition & Examples

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Alessandra Sulpy
Analogous colors are groups of three adjacent colors on the color wheel that have similarities. Explore the color wheel, learn more about the definition and examples of analogous colors, as well as ways of using analogous colors, and find out when and why this scheme should be used. Updated: 09/26/2021

The Color Wheel

Before we can get into what analogous colors are, we should first understand a bit more about the color wheel. Since we were little kids, we've learned that almost all colors can be made from three colors: red, blue, and yellow. Those three colors are known as the primary colors.

When you look for the primary colors on the color wheel, you'll see they are evenly spaced on the wheel. If you mix the primary colors with each other (for example, yellow + red), you will get what is known as a secondary color. These colors are green, orange, and violet.

The last classification used on the color wheel is tertiary colors, which are a mixture of a secondary and primary color that are next to each other on the color wheel. For example, red-violet is a tertiary color combining red and violet. Tertiary colors include red-violet, red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, and blue-violet.

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  • 0:00 The Color Wheel
  • 0:58 What Are Analogous Colors?
  • 1:45 Ways to Use Analogous Color
  • 2:27 Why or Why not Use…
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What Are Analogous Colors?

When we talk about the color wheel, the term 'analogous' refers to having an analogy, or similarity, between colors. Analogous colors are a group of three colors next to each other on a color wheel, such as violet, red-violet, and red. When these colors are grouped together we call it an analogous color scheme. The color in the center of this group of three is sometimes called the mother color, since the other two colors contain that center color.

You've probably seen many examples of an analogous color scheme without even realizing it! Imagine it's autumn, and you're outside looking at all the color-changing leaves on a tree. You see different shades of oranges, reds, and yellows replacing the once-green leaves. Red-orange, orange, and yellow-orange are an analogous color scheme, with orange being the mother color.

Ways to Use Analogous Color

Artists use analogous color when they're trying to create an image that is pleasing to the eye and harmonious. You get a sense of a rich, monochromatic (mono meaning 'one,' and chromatic meaning 'color;' monochromatic means one shade of color) image that feels serene and comfortable.

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