I'm a UX designer specializing in interaction design and information architecture, but I'm looking to deepen my knowledge in visual design and color theory. I'm currently working on a new portfolio site. Several users who tested this site's prototype said that blue and orange by themselves didn't convey the sort of emotion that they would expect in a site for my target industry.

Based on users' goals and their personas' details, the colors are purple, blue, orange, and green. Dark red and light yellow also might trigger the right emotions, according to my analysis.

I've been generating possible new color schemes with Color Scheme Designer. This tool lets me start with a preset complementary, analogous, accented analogous, triad, or tetrad color scheme based on one color.

Here's a possible color scheme I have right now:

enter image description here

I've been studying how tetrad color schemes are supposed to work at sites like Color Wheel Pro and Malane Newman. These examples use color wheels with far fewer colors than Color Scheme Designer's, so that raises some questions for me.

  1. Do the pairs of complementary colors in a tetradic color scheme need to be a certain distance apart (in degrees)?
  2. Is there a rule of thumb in graphic design or visual design for how far apart the pairs of complementary colors are supposed to be?
  3. What is a good way for me to add more colors to this color scheme, such as the red and green? Will this work alongside the tetrad scheme above?

1 Answer 1


I don't think it's good to use this very mathematical approach to color schemes. I use colourlovers website to find a scheme that I like. Use your eyes and feelings. These tools give balanced colors but we don't want balanced colors, we want interesting colors. There is a way to create color schemes from photos. I made 3 color schemes:

enter image description here

I took the picture and go to Save for web menu. Choose GIF, 8 colors and so these are the colors for three different pictures. They look natural and in my opinion they fit very well together. The problem is they look a little bit dull. I used a little bit of gray and set the layer to color burn. We get this:

enter image description here

Ugly? :)

  • 1
    That's great way of quickly getting a couple colours to start fiddling with!
    – Vincent
    Jun 25, 2014 at 10:01

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