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Photoshop CS5: The Missing Manual by Lesa Snider

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Selecting a Color Scheme

As mentioned earlier, if you're picking a color scheme for your project, you usually begin by choosing a main (or base) color. This main color can come from a piece of art that you're starting with (like a logo or photo) or it can be a color that you want to build your design around. Once you know the main color, you can use a few simple rules to find other colors that go well with it. In this section, you'll learn how to use a color wheel to pick a color scheme based on four popular color scheme harmonies (color combinations proven by color experts to go well together). But don't worry: You'll also learn where to find tools to automate this process in case picking colors manually isn't your cup of tea.

Using a Color Wheel

Let's say you've gotten your hot little hands on a color wheel. Great! Now, what the heck do you do with it? For starters, you need to pick the main color you want your color scheme to revolve around and then plot its location on the color wheel. Once you've done that, you can use one of the following color scheme harmonies to help you pick other colors that go well with it (to see what these color schemes look like, skip ahead to Figure 12-4):

  • Monochromatic schemes use colors from the same wedge of colors on the color wheel.

  • Analogous schemes use colors from the wedges on both sides of the main color.

  • Complementary schemes use colors from the wedge directly across from the main color.

  • Split complementary schemes use colors from the wedges on ...

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