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This Interactive Online Color Wheel Will Help You Understand Color Theory


The folks over at Canva have put together a fun, interactive Color Wheel tool that might just be the easiest, most enjoyable way way to play around with and learn about color theory.

Canva is an online tool/service that uses a drag-and-drop interface to help beginners create professional looking designs. As such, the color wheel they’ve created is actually meant for designers, but that doesn’t mean photographers can’t use it to learn about color theory as well.

As we’ve pointed out multiple times in the past, an understanding of color theory can work wonders for your photography, especially once you get into post-processing. Getting an accurate color balance is only a starting point, after which you can alter and modify the image to suit the mood and feeling you’re trying to convey.

One of the best ways to do this is by using colors that “work well together,” like complementary colors that sit on opposing sides of the color wheel (see the slightly overused “orange and teal look“), triadic colors for a bold look, or various shades of the same color for a monochromatic look. If none of those terms sound familiar, that’s where Canva’s interactive color wheel comes in.

The brand’s Color Wheel page explains the most common terms in color theory, and then gives you a fun and useful tool through which to learn-by-doing. For example, when you select complementary color from the tool’s drop-down menu, picking a primary color on the wheel will immediately identify its complement as well.

You can change the hue and saturation on the wheel itself, and then adjust the luminance using the point around the edge. Once you have a color you like, the tool will identify its complement; it even gives you the hex codes for both colors so you can type it straight into Photoshop. The same thing can be done with Monochromatic, Analogous, Triadic, and Tetradic color combinations.

Once you’re done, you can export the combination as a PDF complete with swatches, hex codes, RBG values, and CMYK values.

This won’t replace a comprehensive tutorial where you really get to dive into color theory and see its applications in action, but the interactive, hands-on component might just help you get a better grasp on colors and inspire you to get creative with the HSL or Split Toning tools in Lightroom after your next shoot.

To learn more about the Canva Color Wheel or give it a shot for yourself, head over to the Canva website by clicking here.