Is there some convention to divide circle of colors into named segments? I want to define segments as basic colors, like red, orange, yellow, green, cyan, blue, magenta and pink. Problem is: where to draw the exact lines between the colors?

I asked similar question also on SO, but as it involves maybe even more graphic designer experience, I feel this site maybe even more appropriate.

EDIT To be a bit more specific: I am talking about HSL colorspace color circle.


I made rough dividing like this:

  1-15 red
  16-50 orange
  51-72 yellow
  73-155 green
  156-185 cyan
  186-268 blue
  269-310 magenta
  311-344 pink
  345-359 red

It suits for my needs, more or less. I ask: is there someone already done something like that?

  • 1
    There are a infinite ways to create a color circle. There are also infinite interpretations of colors. This question is too broad for StackExchange. I recommend that you spend some time learning about color theory and color systems. Mar 23, 2021 at 14:02
  • I have already seen the classic red, yellow, green, cyan, blue magenta, with 60° on each segment. But, as Zach said earlier it's a mater of interpretation, i don't think there is a convention, and it depends on the purpose and the precision.
    – TheSqu
    Mar 23, 2021 at 16:12
  • I started writing an answer for this but stopped as I realized it was the start of a novel going off in different directions. Really a general answer seems impossible. Could you perhaps provide some background info on what kind of images/pixels you are trying to classify and what the purpose is?
    – Wolff
    Mar 25, 2021 at 11:33
  • @Wolff To summarize my purpose shortly: this is a part of image search functionality for our bookstore. During years we had lot of clients who come to us and want to find "this red book, you know". So, I'd like to index all our books's images, so I could query them by their dominant colors (as one parameter in wider query, of course).
    – w.k
    Mar 26, 2021 at 1:18
  • @w.k, Ah, that's actually valuable info! Maybe a pure HSL color wheel approach isn't the best way then. Because with full saturation and lightness and only focusing on hue, you are missing some colors books can have like black, gray, brown and beige. Maybe the question could be updated to include this info? Try to take a look at how search engines categorize colors: Google, DuckDuckGo. I don't now exactly how they distinguish though.
    – Wolff
    Mar 26, 2021 at 7:32

1 Answer 1


Color names are not as universal as you think. Second a color wheel is at best a lie to children. Also, its not entirely clear how a color wheel should be spread out. since there is no scientific reasoning behind it. Thus, it is very hard to say for sure how one should do it, as only thing we know is what colors should oppose each other, if even that.

Now you can define the circle as you like. But be aware that humans only really recognize colors: Red, Pink, Purple, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, Brown, Black, White. Then some intermediate colors like teal, peach do exists, most specific colors exist in the yellow red region. But this is culture dependent some cultures dont recognize blue/green for example as being separate colors.

This means that if you take a standard HSL color circle it will be heavily lopsided because green and blue occupy 50% of the circle and has like 2-3 names. While the other side 5-8. A HSL wheel really neglects the most interesting area the yelow region by giving it only a very tiny slice. So the HSL wheel is not well suited for the job.

But then you may be tyrying to make sense in a way where there is none.

  • HSL wheel is not well suited for which job?
    – w.k
    Mar 25, 2021 at 0:38

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