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    History of the Color Wheel

    By Creative Coverings

    The color wheel is a circular representation of 12 color hues based off of the primary colors of Red, Yellow, and Blue.  These colors cannot be formed by mixing any other colors so serve as the basis for formulating the secondary colors of Orange, Green, and Purple.

    Sir Isaac Newton was the first person to illustrate this circular color combination in 1666.  His theory was based on the physical aspect that when light strikes an object the color reflects back to our eyes. Artists and designers use the color wheel because it visually displays the relationship between primary, secondary, and complimentary colors (colors directly across from one another). His creation of the color wheel helped form the basis for the creation of color harmony and theory.

    Since Newton, the theory behind color, along with the color wheel itself has progressed. Artists and scientists have explored ways to create a multitude of color options based off of the three primary colors.  In 1692 a Dutch artist known as “A. Boogert” created an 800-page book of watercolors. Certain hues were created based on how much water was mixed.

    In the early 19th Century, a writer by the name of Goethe wrote the “Theory of Colours” which questioned Newton’s theory; he focused on the physiological ways that colors affect humans…that the sensation of color is shaped by perception and each color links to a certain human emotion. What we see is based on the object AND the lighting.

    And in the first decade of the 20th Century, Munsell, an artist, teacher and inventor of the Munsell color system, created what is now the foundation for many other color systems that we know today.  This system is based on three color dimensions: Hue, Value, and Chroma. Using this system, artists and designers now have access to thousands of color options!

    *works cited:;,


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