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Scrapbooking: Basic color theory

Looking for a simple, versatile scrapbooking idea that can make your pages interesting and great looking? Try using the color wheel to design well-coordinated eye-pleasing pages that really shine! Scrapbooker J. Moncliff has some tips.

The simple color theories that you learned in grade school can serve you very well in scrapbooking today, and after reviewing the basics you’ll be ready to create an unlimited number of great looking pages.

Color wheels

Start with the color wheel

Remember the color wheel — colors arranged in a circle, similar to a rainbow, and all of the colors related? Two examples are above.

The purpose of a color wheel is to help you create complementary, monochromatic and other color schemes for your scrapbook layouts — and it can also help remind you of the various color blends. (Red combines with yellow to make orange, yellow and blue combine to make green, and red and blue make purple, remember?)

You can visit your local art or craft store and invest in a simple color wheel to get you going, or simply print out your own from this collection of color wheels

the photo as the main element

Let your picture be your guide in choosing a color scheme for your page. Choose one color from the photograph to be your “key” color. It may be a color from a flower in the foreground, or the color of the shirt your child is wearing. Whatever you choose, it will be the starting point for your color themed page design.

The first color scheme is monochromatic. Say you’ve chosen the blue of your son’s eyes. Since every color comes in many values, choose two or three additional values of the blue color you want to use. You may choose one lighter value and one darker value, or two lighter or darker values, it’s up to you. Now do all of your work on the page in these three colors. The result will be restful, calming and cohesive. Your page will be pleasing to the eye and stylish, no matter how you accessorize.

Choosing two or three adjoining colors is called an analogous color scheme. These combinations tend to be either warm (from the red side of the color wheel) or cool (from the blue side of the color wheel). They are pleasing to the eye, restful and attractive. Certain combinations lend themselves very well to different themes as well. Consider a combination of red, orange yellow and orange for a striking fall layout, or a combination of icy blues and purples for a frosty winter page.

The third basic type of color scheme is complementary. Choosing colors across the wheel from each other creates contrast, and is a good way to make the items on your page stand out. For instance, on a blue page, mat the photos in orange and use orange-toned accents toget your details to really stand out.

Red and green are also complimentary — which is another reason that Christmas scrapbooking pages are usually so striking. Every color on the color wheel has a compliment, so consider basing your page on one color and accent with its compliment for a striking, impressive effect.

Making the most of the basics

The basics of color theory that we learned in grade school are worth reviewing when you’re looking for ideas to get started on your next scrapbook page. Get familiar again with the color wheel and put those great colors, shades and tones to work for you!

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