If we are going to talk about graphic art... we need to talk about color combinations! This would apply when deciding what color to make the flames on your own car... choosing a two-tone... how to choose a pinstripe color... or even what color lettering would work best.
This is really "art lessons 101".
As a new custom painter in the '70s... I thought I needed to do things different than what had been done before. I intentionally used colors that I had been taught were not "complimentary" to each other. At first I liked the results, since they were unusual and unexpected.
After about 10 years, I was looking back at my own work, and decided that I did not think the color combos had worked as well as they should. I decided to "cave", and started using the color wheel to pick my combinations.
I liked the results better, and it wasn't long before I had a couple different people tell me.....
....."You use color SO well!" :-o Ooops!
I was shocked to find that following-the-rules could get the desired result from other enthusiasts!
Below is a color wheel. The rule is that opposite colors compliment each other.
For example blue and orange are "compliments". It's funny how the orange (being called a "hot color") makes the blue look "cooler", and of course the other way around. The orange looks even hotter, because it is next to the blue (a "cool" color)!
In other words, all of the things that are strong in a color, are intensified by the opposite color's contasts.
In my work, I have found that it doesn't have to be the exact opposite... but just close to it. A medium-blue would be complimented pretty well by an orange... or a yellow-orange... or a red-orange.
I will add two other important rules about color combos. These will always give a pleasant combination... though not as exciting as "complimentary colors".
(1) It is always okay to use a "neutral color". These are colors with very little personality. They will always harmonize with any colors from the color wheel.
...and I personally think a light gold or beige works. Just not too yellowish.
(2) A lighter or darker shade of your main color.
Since it is the same color... but a different shade... it will always harmonize with it.
One other tip: If you have a very small bit of color (like pinstripes), and you want it to show well, use colors that are lighter/brighter... or a more intense shade of a complimentary color. That way they will still be noticable next to a few "acres" of your main color.
Last edited by TucsonJay; 04-20-2013 at 02:53 PM.