Color Theory PT3: Color Schemes and Contrasts

Color schemes and Contrasts! Who doesn’t love them?

They’re often a great way to add color to a build, painting, or miniature.

check out color theory part 1 and part 2 for previous info

What’s a Color Scheme?

A color scheme is a blend of color choices. Here are some examples of color schemes:


  • Using a single color along with its tints, tones, and shades


  • Using two complementary colors on the color wheel
    • such as red-green, purple yellow, or blue-orange)


  • Using two or more colors next to each other on the color wheel.
    • Red-orange-yellow or Yellow-green-blue


  • Three colors that are equally spaced on the color wheel
    • or found by drawing a triangle on the color wheel
    • Red-Blue-Yellow


  • One base color and two adjacent secondary (and complementary) colors
    • Blue-yellow-orange
    • Purple-orange-yellow green


  • Two sets of complementary pairs and pick one as a dominant color
    • Green-red and orange-blue
  • Can be found by drawing a square or rectangle on


  • Three pairs of complementary colors
  • done by drawing a hexagon on a color wheel


Johannes Itten (11 November 1888 – 25 March 1967) was an expressionist painter and the first to produce a theory about contrast types. He named seven types.

1. Light and Dark Contrast

  • The contrast of two colors with different brightness or tones
  • Such as a light gray and dark gray

2. Proportional Contrast

  • Two colors but each color have a different area size
  • The difference in size produces a contrast

3. Pure Color Contrast

  • Pure color saturation that produces a high visual contrast
    • These colors contain no tines, tones, or shades

4. Warm and Cold Contrast

  • The difference in temperature that color has creates a contrast

5. Simultaneous Contrast

  • The contrast that refers to adjacent colors affects each other.

6. Complementary Color Contrast

  • The contrast that two opposite colors create.

7. Quality or Hue Contrast

  • The contrast that a difference of hue (saturation) will create when placed together

Tips on Schemes?

Well, there are a few ways you can pick a scheme for a model or figure

  • You can use a program like this to generate a color scheme
    • some colors might have to be mixed to get the exact shade or play around till you can find the best paint matches for them
Here’s one for example
  • Some folks use Gundam line art to play around with color schemes
  • Spoons! I test potential color schemes on plastic spoons.
  • That way if I like it then I can easily store it for later use and discard it if I don’t.
  • Another thing I like to do is use color swatches that you can get from hardware stores.
    • I keep and store mine in a small binder. 
and they’re free!

Examples of Color Schemes I’ve used

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Have a happy Thursday everyone!


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