Friday, July 8, 2011

How to Make a Color Wheel for your Sketchbook

You have probably seen these color wheels in the store.  I pull mine out occasionally when designing a project but when I'm out and about painting I need a tool specific to me.

One using colors of my palette and on the paper I am using.

Now at home I have a binder filled with test sheets for reference and you can put in a little test swatch right on one of your sketchbook pages but why not take it a step further.

Trace and cut out a circle that will fit onto your sketchbook page.  Make it out of the same type of paper or as close as you can get.  If you have a coil binding you can just rip out a blank page to use. Trace on a smaller circle so you have an outer rim where the colors will go.

Using the your palette, here I'm using my field kit, make a color wheel.  I like 12 sections:
-  3 primary (Red, Yellow, Blue)
- 3 secondary  (Orange, Green, Purple)
- and 6 tertiary ( primary and secondary mixed together, i.e. greenish yellow)

On a page of your book draw a window that will show 4 analogous colors at once. Analogous colors are colors that sit side by side on the wheel.

Also make a little window that will only show one color directly opposite the middle of that other window.  I used the same circular objects I used to trace out the wheel.  You want your windows to be a bit smaller width wise that the actual color segments.

Using scissors or a paper cutter cut out your windows.

Poke a hole thru the center of your wheel, put it in place on top of your window page and mark the center thru that hole.

Poke a hole thru that page, insert paper fastener, put color wheel on at the back of that page.

Now you have a very useful tool.  It shows a 4 color analogous scheme as well as a contrast or complimentary color that goes with them and it's right in your sketchbook at your fingertips.

Turn the wheel and you get another color scheme. 
- have your students construct this color wheel tool and then picking a color scheme paint a composition limited to these colors.
- paint side by side color sketches, one with only analogous colors and one adding in that complementary color.
- use the complimentary color for the focal point
- use this tool to analyze how other artists utilize these color schemes.


  1. What a great project! I have not done much colour theory so this will be fun to play with and use. Thanks so much!

  2. Just a quick note to let you know that a link to this post will be placed on CraftCrave today [09 Jul 01:00am GMT]. Thanks, Maria

  3. This is one of the most wonderful art projects I have ever seen. You never cease to amaze me!

  4. Just found your blog and I love it. I'll be exploring lots of your project ideas for sure. Thank you. xx

  5. What a lovely idea. I have yet to purchase a color wheel but I think making one would probably be more useful for me. Thanks for sharing the wonderful tutorial.

  6. Thanks!
    Your project is very interesting and really useful (not only for artists, but for everyone who works or plays with colors)!

  7. this idea is so great! im truly inspired by your site! thanks for sharing :)

  8. I am a mom that is always doing art projects with my kids. Your site is awesome!! I love your projects, you are an incredible art teacher. Thanks for sharing your talent.

  9. Do I have permission to post this to my Pinterest board? Love the idea!

  10. I too would love to pin this - amazing!

  11. Wow, just found your blog. Can't wait to incorporate it into my home school lessons. Thank you!

  12. just what I need to getting me going again. going to make an embroidered one as well

  13. I found your blog just now via Pinterest and wow!! So nice! I would love to do this project however, the images are not showing up for some reason... :(

    1. Thanks so much for letting me know. For some reason my pictures are missing from June 15th - July 11/2011. I still have them so I will try add them in the next few days.

    2. You're welcome! I am so happy I found your blog. :)

  14. Thank you 🙏🏻 , this is great. 💕