Secondary Colors - orange, violet, and green. These are made mixing any of the primary colors as explained above.

Tertiary Colors - Colors made by mixing a primary and its secondary color.

Neutral Colors - when equal amounts of two complementary colors are used, a neutral grey or brown is made.
Using the Colors
Colors adjacent  (next on the color wheel), to each other are called Analogous Colors. These colors are beside each other in the color wheel such as red and orange, green and yellow, green and blue, blue and purple, etc.
Colors across from each other are called Complementary Colors. Colors such as purple and yellow, green and red (x-mas colors!), and blue and orange can be matched together.
If you try to match colors that are not Complementary or Analogous, they do not fit together as well. Try to stick to using complimentary and analogous colors as much as possible. If you want to use other color coordination besides the one's mentioned, you may do so but you might have to take up a bit of time mixing and matching.

1. When using color, you have to consider other colors as well. For example, if you use a white background as the color wheel at the top of the page, the colors in the wheel look more brighter where as the colors with the black background on the left look darker. Colors take on the "effect" of the color surrounding it - keep that in mind when using colors.

2. When you create a character, your choice of color will make the character look either a good guy or a bad guy. Good guys usually have "lighter" color clothing as opposed to bad guys which have "darker" shades of color. This does not mean that you have to give your good guy character's all pastel colors -- what it means, for example, is that if a good guy has a blue shirt then as a bad guy the shirt color will be blue also but in a darker shade. 

Quadrant                      Sequential                    Asymmetrical              Golden Mean 

A good basic composition will often either be asymetrical or will lead the viewer's eye around the work. Some standard compositional layouts are shown above.

Quadrant-In this simple composition a dynamic balance is created by the changes in value from dark to light. There is not equal amounts of dark or light on each side.

Sequential-This simple composition is completely reliant on rhythms. Rhythm is important to all compositions in any discipline and visual art is no exception. The changing sizes and values lead a viewer across the page like changing notes lead a listener through a piece of music. Notice that there are not any two areas that are the same size. This helps to create an asymmetrical balance. Other types of sequential compositions rely on mathematics, like the Fibonacci Sequence.

Asymmetrical-Also referred to as Dynamic Balance. This sort of composition relies on creating balance between the two sides of the picture. In this picture the negative space, or area on the left where there is no rectangular object, has equal visual weight to the right side. Think of it as you would a scale. On one side of the scale there is eight one-ounce cubes and on the other is two four-ounce cubes. They both weigh eight ounces, but look different. In a compositon this could be shown as two large dark squares and eight light squares. Try to move the elements around the compositon to lead the viewer around the composition. The use of one shape, color, line etc. is called repetition of an element and helps to create connections between objects in a composition. This compositional style also shows up in sculpture.

Golden Mean (or Fibonacci Sequence used in a spiral)-This mathematical composition is created from a 1 to 1.618... ratio. You will find this particular ratio works well in creating an interesting balance in a picture. The system is made up of a series of square areas which diminish in size and curve in toward the center, much like a snail's shell. One can recreate a similar instance of this by starting with a 10 inch by 16 inch rectangle. Divide a square section on the left side with a vertical line. Draw a line from corner to corner. At the point that the diagonal meets the vertical line draw in a horizontal. Draw another diagonal from the top right corner to the bottom of the vertical line. Draw a vertical from the point where the diagonal meets the horizontal line and continue the process until the squares become too small to work with.

Most compositions do not adhere only to one of these models, but use a combination of two or three to help carry a viewer through more complex pathways.
The trick is to strike a balance between unity and variety. Too much unity and the design can look boring and repetitive; too much variety and it can look chaotic and disconnected. Understanding gestalt concepts can help a designer control unity and variety.


 • Positioning of Elements in a Still Life

Don't position the objects you want in a still life in a straight row – they'll look like soldiers on parade. Rather stagger them – but not at equal distances from each other! Or if you really want them in a straight row, overlap them or paint them from an usual angle, such as straight on or from above.

Looking at a painting in a mirror also helps you see mistakes or areas that need working on. 

• Folding a Card
If you want to make a card from a piece of ordinary printer paper, fold it in quarters, not just in half, as then it'll stand up well. Even better, glue it in half, then fold again.

• Squint to Make Out Forms
If you squint your eyes, the light and dark areas in whatever you're painting will become more obvious. It also eliminates some of the detail, which you can probably leave out of your painting too.

• Placing Elements in a Painting
If you can't decide where to place the elements in a painting, make some quick sketches of them, cut these out and then move them around on a sheet of paper until you get a composition that works. Then stick them down so they don't accidentally move again!

 Leave a Blank Border Around Your Painting
Leave a white border around the edge of your painting. It not only gives you somewhere to 'test' your colours, but it means that when the painting is framed you won't loose any of it under the mounting board.

• Don't Fill in the Spaces
Once you've drawn your subject on your canvas, don't fill in the "shapes". The drawing isn't there to help you paint-by-numbers; it's a starting point not the end product.

Overcoming an Intimidating Blank Canvas
it can be quite intimidating when faced with a blank, white canvas. To get over this block, wash the whole canvas in a colour you like working with, using a sponge. This will help to overcome fear and rigidity. Even if this underwash is not quite in line with you had in mind for your end product, you can always paint over it!

• Look at a Painting Upside Down to Spot Mistakes
When you feel that something's not right in your painting but can't figure out what it is, turn it upside down. This way your brain is more likely to see the shapes rather than interpreting them into the subject of your painting, and it's easier to see which bits aren't working.



The color wheel is comprised of main colors: red, purple, blue, green, yellow, and orange.  Some color wheels have an inner ring which are pastel versions of the main colors and a third outer ring -  would have  darker variations)

The colors orange, red, and yellow are known as the warm colors. These colors are bright, cheerful, and are associated with anything hot which is why they are called warm colors. 

Purple, blue, and green, on the other hand are the cool colors. These three colors are are often used in shadows among other things which is why they are called cool colors.


Some useful terms that you should familiarize yourself with:

Hue - A pure color; the color itself (red, yellow, blue, etc.)

Intensity - refers to the brightness of a color. In order to lower a colors intensity (dull down), add a small amount of its complement; its opposite color (more about complements later). For example, to dull down red, add a bit of green. If equal amounts of red and green are mixed, the color becomes brown not a dulled down red. 

Value - refers to the lightness or darkness of a color. For example, to lighten a color add white. 

Primary Colors - red, yellow, and blue. They are the basic colors that make up all the other colors of the color wheel. For example, if you mix red and yellow - you get the secondary color: orange. Mix red and blue - you get purple. Mix blue and yellow- you get green. And from there you can create tertiary colors like turquoise (a blue green color) or fuschia (a red purple color).

Designs are concepts for  organizing visual information. They are not rules so much as definitions for what works. Design is the organization  your visual work.  The four major principals of design  help us create,   perceive and process visual information and are the ideas for creating order in two-dimensional images. The design principles will help you make decisions on  how  to  create your compositions. 

A designer must know how to control what the viewers sees. The design principles help to do that. Knowing them puts you in charge and helps you create images that say what you want to communicate. The intellectual knowledge of these concepts will reinforce what you know intuitively and give you a basis for rapid development as a designer


Figure/Ground  how form (figure) relates to the format (ground)

Unity  (also called- Gestalt)  the concepts that make unity and variety possible in design.  It is concerned with the relationship between the parts and the whole of a composition 

Balance    is concerned with the distribution of visual interest -- what is where in a composition. There are two systems for controlling balance:

Symmetry-  a mirror image
Asymmetry- without symmetry

Emphasis   It is important for a designer to know how to control the attention of someone viewing their artwork.

Color is the most exciting design element. Color has three distinct properties:

Hue– spectral color name

Value  lightness or darkness of color

Saturation-  brightness or dullness of a color

Shape  all objects have shapes, either mechanical (geometric shapes (circle, oval, square, triangle, etc.)  or  organic (from nature).


There are two things that a designer tries to accomplish in every composition: unity with variety. These concepts are in many ways the opposite of each other. The goal is to reach a balance between the two.