colour wheelIs the sky blue?

When is blue, green or purple?

The colour wheel is vast with infinite combinations of colour and hue. It is organised in a circle – hence the name –  to show relationships between colours, identifying opposites and complementary colours. I spent weeks in my first year of Art College painting swatches of gouache to produce a smooth and continuous spectrum.

Each person, we are told sees colour in a different way and that is mind blowing as we will never be able to compare the variations, how lucky that it is all relative. Even if you see green as red, you will only know the tree as green and no one can tell you different.

seeing the colour wheel

Recently I have been having a colour problem with the blues! Printing blues is a little tricky sometimes, reflex blue – a renowned combination of the CMYK printing inks – is often avoided for its long drying time. However my problem evolved from printing on an uncoated paper, a bit like painting on a rough plaster wall that soaks the paint up faster than you can coat it. The difference in finish is like comparing the plaster wall with a shiny radiator!

Our problem also escalated because we printed a tint – a percentage of the colour  – instead of a light blue it looked more like purple! The purple – I mean blue – was further round the colour wheel towards the reds rather than the greens! Going too far the other way it would have become turquoise and greener!

blue becomes purple on the colour wheelBut where does blue become green? Where does blue become purple?

Each person has their own opinion!

A blue can look like a true blue until you place it next to another swatch and it then becomes purple!

Black is black until you place it next to ‘Rich Black’ and then it becomes grey!

I have a continuing argument about orange, is it yellow (yes!) or is it orange – the customer is always right (wrong) so of course its yell… – ORANGE!

Our relationship with colour is part of our every day lives. The environment we live in is chosen by us, the clothes we wear and the colours we use, all tell tales. Your logo may be your favourite colour or you’ve chosen the colours of your old school as a livery for your business. On entering a room we can be overwhelmed by the atmosphere created by the decor and depending on our taste be at ease or on edge, we relate so many feelings with colour!

A friend of mine, Deborah, an Interior Designer summed it up recently…

“Relationship with colour.

The human eye can distinguish 10 million colours, but we all experience colour in a different way. Colour can provoke an emotional response, consciously or unconsciously.

Is blue cold and uninviting, or warm like a Mediterranean sky?

Is green natural and soothing, or just unlucky?

Is red sexy, or dangerous, or stimulating?”colour spectrum

Ive often wondered how they conjure so many inventive names for paint and how imaginative they have to be, Deborah goes on to say…

 “Are you intrigued or appalled by the names that paint companies give their colours?

Would you never paint a room with Dead Salmon, or does it perfectly describe the shade of pinkish grey you have been looking for?”

For design reference we have the Pantone colour matching system and all we have to know is our favourite number – well I have my favourites that I always know, 185 red 152 orange, 365 green, but get the wrong pantone system and you end up in all kinds of trouble. If you have one of the guides look up the difference in colour between the coated and uncoated inks and their percentages…

pantone colour guidesThe same colour is mixed differently for the stock it is printed on so that technically it bears a resemblance to each other and the colour chosen. However to throw another cat amongst the pigeons, try matching your screen and your documents to your desired colour!

RGB and Hex colours are always the specified colour mode when working with web designers, printers do not like them! They are not always accurately converted to print because ink has limitations in the colours it can produce against the colours we see. Screen colours and printed colours are achieved in very different ways. Read more about colour values here.

Converting files from RGB to CMYK for print is essential. If the file is not converted unknown effects can take place without you knowing and a Printer will not know it wasn’t as you intended. Convert the files before making PDF’s but do all your work in photoshop (or equivalent) in RGB then convert as the last task.

What colours do you see,  and how do you classify them, comments are very welcome but no arguing!

orange or yellow colour wheel


orange or yellow?



colour wheel blues



green or blue?


purple colour wheel


purple or blue?


Why the Colour wheel of fortune? Many a logo or a branded product has been ‘made’ or ‘broken’ by the right or wrong colour… and the costs of getting it wrong…!


Many thanks to Deborah of Deborah Montlake Interiors Ltd
A New Eye on Your Interior
01279 320020
07771 798197

Angie Phillips of A.N.G Creative Design, based in Essex, UK, helping you communicate your message to your clients and generating more leads and sales.

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