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Different types of Color Schemes

Color schemes are combination of colors which can be extracted from the color wheel. These schemes provide some logical color palettes which can be used for various design purposes be it designing a logo, UI Design, painting a house, designing fabrics, etc. Let’s learn about all the major color schemes in this article.

Achromatic color schemes

Achromatic color scheme is the only color scheme which is said to be colorless. Contradictory, right? This is because this scheme uses only achromatic or unsaturated colors like black, gray and white. The most common example is, black text on white background or white text on black background.

Monochromatic color schemes

Monochromatic color scheme only uses a single color. But it is used in variations of its shades, tint and tones. When we add black to a color in different amount, we get varying shades of the color. When we add white to a color in the same manner, we get tints of that color. Adding gray to a color gives its tones. It helps us to make extraordinary designs using a single color.

Complementary color schemes

In complementary color schemes, the colors which are at opposite angles on the color wheel comes into partnership. So, it involves just two colors. Since, complementary colors are highly contrasting, they should be used carefully, specially for text.

Split complementary/ Compound color scheme

The split complementary or compound color scheme uses colors on the opposite sides like the complementary color scheme. But, it takes a color (first color) along with two colors besides the complementary color of the first color. So, in all there are three colors. The color selection forms a ‘Y’ shape in the color wheel.

Double Complementary/ Tetradic color scheme

Double complementary or tetradic color scheme uses four colors from the color wheel. These four colors are found from two complementary color pairs. This scheme is further classified into two types-


In this type, the four colors form a rectangle on the color wheel. There is one main color and other three colors are located at an angle of 60 degree, 180 degree and 240 degree from the main color.


In this type, the four colors are equally spaced around the color wheel. These colors form a square on the wheel.

Analogous color schemes

Analogous color scheme involves using three adjacent colors on the color wheel. One out of the three colors is dominant and is most probably either a primary or secondary color. The other two adjacent colors are used as supportive and accent colors. Accent colors are only used to emphasize and can often be bold and vivid.

Accented analogous

In accented analogous color scheme, the three adjacent colors form group with a color which is a complementary or near complementary color of any of the three adjacent colors. The complementary color is only used as an accent color while the three colors dominate.

Triadic color schemes

Triadic color scheme is made up of three equally spaced colors in the color wheel and forms a triangle within the wheel. This scheme is usually quite vibrant as it has high contrasting colors.

Polychromatic color schemes

Polychromatic color scheme can have a lot of colors. Usually, it has five or more colors. Since, it has more number of colors, one needs to be very careful while putting them together in a design.


In this article, we have learnt about all the major color schemes which are already tried and tested. You are not just limited to these schemes but you can develop your own from the color wheel. Experiment with the colors and have fun!

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