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How To Use Colour Theory In 3 Different Ways To Improve Your Photography Today

Ever wondered what colour science is and how you should use it? Well in this post I will show you 3 easy ways to implement colour theory to improve your photos. 

So, what will you learn today? 

All of the above can be used to make a more visually appealing image. 


I want you to go to this site https://color.adobe.com/create – it will open in a new tab.

It is the Adobe colour wheel and it’s an extremely powerful and useful tool to use. Once you’ve opened the page come back here for the rest.

Now that you have that open, feel free to play about with the colour wheel to see how the colour schemes work as you go through this post.

You can toggle the colour scheme type on the left hand side and the colour wheel will automatically generate the colour scheme for you.

Complementary Colours 

What are complementary colours? 

Complementary colours are colours that are on opposite sides of the colour wheel. 

Examples of complementary colours are pairs like red and green or blue and orange.

Complementary colours are opposite colours and create the greatest contrast between 2 colours. 

Now this doesn’t mean you need colours that are directly opposite but as long as they are close to that you will probably achieve a similar effect.

We won’t go into the science behind why they work so well together, but a lot of it is to do with how complementary colours contrast against each other and make each other pop.

Analogous Colours

What are analogous colours?

Analogous colours are next to each other on the colour wheel rather than opposite each other.

They come in groups of 3 colours that include one tertiary colour. Analogous colours are different to complementary colours in the sense that they create little contrast and are more monochromatic.

Analogous colour schemes can be found in nature in situations like autumnal leaves turning red.

You will find many hues of red and orange in these scenes that work to create a pleasing colour scheme. In this situation the analogous colours would be red, red-orange and orange. 

Another example is  blue, blue-green and green. Here the blue and green are primary and the tertiary is blue-green.

Normally in an analogous colour scheme you will find that one of the colours in the colour scheme dominates. 

The above example shows a good example of analogous colours with red, red-orange, orange. 

Monochromatic Colours

What are monochromatic colours?

Monochromatic colours all have the same hue, but vary in tone, tints and shades. 

This means they would have the same position on the colour wheel but just be different variations of that hue. Look at the picture below to see what I mean.

Since monochromatic colours only use one hue they have a different effect compared to analogous and complementary colours.

For example, you could use different variations of a pink hue. Look at this example to see what I mean.

Monochromatic colours are effective in creating simplistic and minimal design. This can help lead to a very clean and polished look.

Another way you can use them is in the background. A monochromatic background can add colour to a setting or image without being distracting from the subjects in the picture.

How can I use these colour schemes in my photography?

There’s various ways you can apply the above colour schemes in your photography.

If you’re simply shooting what you can see you can find things naturally occurring in your scene that align themselves with these colour schemes. 

On the other hand you can introduce props to a scene that add to the colour scheme or if its a shoot including people you can organise outfits to match a  theme. 

Beyond all of that you can use the power of editing to create certain looks. Using software like Lightroom or Photoshop you can manipulate colours to get them to look almost however you want.

You can do pretty much anything with these editing apps when it comes to colour and they can help a lot in sticking to a colour scheme. 

For example say you have a scene where you want to stick to a red and green but you have some oranges in there. You can adjust your oranges to make them look more red to match the colour scheme you want to use!

Now you know 3 quick ways to use colour theory to improve your photos. Go out there and start implementing these techniques!

We hope you found this helpful! As always we appreciate your time for reading this.
– Photography Pursuits Team

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