A triadic color scheme is a lot easier to understand than it may sound. Just like some of the other theories we’ve previously discussed on the blog, triadic color combinations make use of three colors. This time, instead of being next to or opposite each other, triadic colors are three colors that are equally spaced around the color wheel.
If you aren’t sure if the colors you are choosing to work with are equally spaced, connect the three of them with a line—simply tracing them with your finger will do. If the shape you outline is a triangle with sides of equal length, then your colors are triadic.
To make it even easier, there are only four triadic color combinations on your basic color wheel:
Red, Yellow, Blue
Red-orange, Yellow-green, Blue-violet
Orange, Green, Violet
Yellow-orange, Blue-green, Red-violet.
Once you’ve chosen one of these combinations, jump on the Close To My Heart color wheel and pick from the exclusive colors that fall into each category.
Another way to use this would be to start with a color you know you want to use, like Sapphire, and then draw a triangle to determine which other two colors to combine with it. Sapphire is in the blue zone, and we know from drawing a triangle (and from the list above) that yellow and redcomplete the color triad.
This layout from our Seasonal Expressions idea book makes use of the red, yellow, blue combination using Cranberry, Canary, and Sapphire. We used Sapphire heavily, as the main color, with Cranberry and Canary acting as accents.
While triadic color combinations do not achieve the same level of contrast as complementary colors, they do provide color variety that tends to look more balanced—making it a favorite among artists who love playing with color. Try out a triadic combination on your next project and let us know how it goes!