Develop visual understanding of how colors relate.


Before you Start:

Go through Intro to Color Presentation and watch the videos below.

The Color Wheel
Basic Color Theory
Making a Color Wheel

You can find more videos about Color in the course Video Resources page.

Exercise 3 | E-portfolio

Self-Critique Questions
Artwork Documentation
Writing Assignment
E-Portfolio Notes

Media & Support:

  • Pencil
  • Gouache
  • Paint Brushes
  • Mixing Palette (egg carton)
  • Container for Water
  • Compass, Ruler, Protractor
  • Xacto Knife & Rubber Cement
  • 9”x12” Drawing Paper
  • 14”x17” Bristol Board
  • Color Studies Template



This exercise has different parts: a color wheel, a value scale of one hue, and a complementary color scale. Each of these will be mounted on the same piece of Bristol Board.


Part 1 | Color Wheel

Step 1: First paint in your primary colors (Red, Blue, Yellow)

Step 2: Only using your primary colors, mix the secondary colors (Orange, Green, Violet) and paint in the appropriate area.

Yellow + Red = Orange
Yellow + Blue = Green
Red + Blue = Violet

Step 3: Only using your primary colors, mix the tertiary colors and paint in the appropriate area.

(Yellow + Red = Orange) + Yellow
(Yellow + Red) + Red
(Red + Blue = Violet) + Red
(Red + Blue = Violet) + Blue
(Blue + Yellow = Green) + Blue
(Blue + Yellow = Green) + Yellow


Part 2 | Achromatic, Monochromatic and Saturation Scales

Step 4: Achromatic Value Scale Paint an achromatic value scale from nearly white to almost black using only white and black.

Step 5: Monochromatic Value Scale

  • Choose a Hue from your color wheel
  • To figure out what value (1-8) your hue is, compare it to the achromatic value scale that you created on Project 8 | Value. All hues have there own inherent value.
  • Paint in the hue where it belongs on your value scale.
  • Then paint the first box (value 1) white and the last box (value 8) black.
  • Add white in increments to your hue to fill in the boxes between white and your hue.
  • Add black in increments to your hue to fill in the boxes between black and your hue.
  • Make sure each shift in value is equal.
  • Repeat if necessary to achieve the best results.

Step 6: Saturation Scale: Paint the left box with the same color used in the monochromatic scale. In each of the following boxes, gradually de-saturate the color with its corresponding achromatic gray. The last box should be painted with only the achromatic gray.

Great visual demonstration narrated in Spanish


Part 3 | Analogous Color Palette

Step 7: Choose 3 adjacent colors from the color wheel and paint directly on boxes labeled 1, 2, 3 in the same order that they appear on the color wheel. In the appropriately labeled boxes, mix together the analogous colors to achieve more subtle variations. In each vertical column, tint (with white) and shade (with black) each of the colors in row 4 to create full value scales for each (almost white to almost black).


Part 4 | Complementary Color Palette

Step 7: Using your pencil and ruler, draw out your 5 step complementary color scale. The entire value scale should be 5 inches long and 1 inch tall. Then divide the rectangle into 5 one inch squares.

Step 8: Paint in your 5 step Complementary Color Scale:

  • Choose a Hue from your color wheel and find its complement.
  • Paint the first box with your chosen Hue, then paint the last box with its complement.
  • Mix in equal parts of the two colors; paint your middle box.
  • Mix your Hue with a little bit of its complementary color, and then paint the second box.
  • Mix your Complementary color with a little bit of the original Hue, and then paint the fourth box.
  • Make sure that each box has an equal shift in color.
  • Repeat if necessary to achieve the best results.

Step 9: Let it dry


Part 5 | E-Portfolio

Step 10: Photograph or scan your exercise and upload to your E-portfolio.

Step 11 Writing Assignment: Answer each of the questions below to complete your written assignment (do not include the actual questions). Use correct grammar and spelling for each of your writing assignments. Refer to the assigned reading and the in-class slideshow to help you with proper use of the vocabulary. Remember that you can review the slideshow on our class website.

Answer each of the following in full sentences (do not copy definitions, use your own words):

  • Describe the difference between the words “hue” and “color”.
  • What does it mean to tint or shade a hue?
  • What is an analogous color scheme?
  • What are complementary colors? What happens when two complements are mixed together?
  • In your own words, describe simultaneous contrast.
  • What does saturation mean? Describe two ways to decrease a color’s saturation.

Add your writing assignment to your e-portfolio on the same page as the image of your exercise. I recommend that you type this as a word document and save it before pasting it into your e-portfolio. Label both the image and writing with the project number and title: Exercise 3: Color Studies Both the image & the writing assignment should be uploaded to your wordpress e-portfolio BEFORE class! Take note of when the classroom is open and available for you to use the computers and/or scanners.


Template: Color Studies

Presentation: Color Studies

Working with Gouache