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4 Colour Harmony Triads

'Triad' sounds other-worldy, like something from a scif-i movie, but whilst these colour harmonies can be challenging to work with, they're not that scary!

Continuing with my colour exercises and using my colour wheel for reference, I've been exploring options for 'triads'.

Triad Harmonies are found with three colours, equidistant from each other on the colour wheel.

Triad 1: Red - Yellow - Blue

Let's start with the primary triad of Red, Yellow and Blue. These three colours really pack a punch, especially if used in their prismatic or pure state, without any admixtures, such as White, Burnt Umber of Paynes Grey.

This sketch ended up quite balanced in the proportional use of the three colours, but I found I needed plenty of white to tone down the vibrancy of the primaries. The least used prismatic colour here is the yellow, though the yellow is still very evident in the soft sandy colours.

I'd be interested to try this again keeping a similar amount of light and dark contrast but shifting the proportional use of colour to include more pale blue. I found that de-saturating much of the colours with white was enough to give me the balance I was looking for, so I only used a touch of Payne's Grey added to the blue in a few small areas. I didn't add Payne's Grey to the reds or the yellows.

Overall colour balance: 50% Red, 25% Yellow and 25% Blue.

Triad 2: Violet - Green - Orange

I found this a super challenging colour scheme to work with and wasn't overjoyed with the results, but it was a very useful exercise. These colours felt very dynamic and dramatic, and using all three as prismatics or pure colours, was overwhelming. I tinted the green to almost white so that's the least dominant of the three colours. It feels quite cool despite the pops of orange, it would be interesting to try this again with much more white. I'll update this blog post if and when I get a chance to have another go! I think proportional use is a factor to really consider when using these colours together.

Overall colour balance: 70% Violet, 15% Green and 15% Orange.

Triad 3: Blue-Green - Red-Violet - Orange-Yellow

This colour triad seems to have a natural and soothing vibrancy, with just the right amount of cool and warm without any single colour feeling too dominant. Though the darkest of the colours I have used sparingly and I added plenty of white to the Blue-Green, which for this sketch was Phthalo Turquoise. It's interesting to notice how different the Red-Violet seems next to each of the other colours and how 'blue' the turquoise appears in relation to the other colours.

Overall colour balance: 60% Blue-Green, 30% Orange-Yellow and 10% Red-Violet.

Triad 4: Blue-Violet - Red-Orange - Yellow-Green

This colour triad presented all kind of challenges to begin with but the overall balance of colours has worked out well and the result is pleasing - perhaps because I'm enjoying greens at the moment! One of the greatest challenges was mixing the Blue-Violet - on the palette it appeared pretty consistent with my colour wheel, but when placed next to the green and orange, it appears much more blue. This colour interaction was a surprise, so next time I'll go a bit heavier with the violet.

Overall colour balance: 70% Yellow-Green 15% Blue-Violet and 15% Red-Orange.

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