Itten's Color Wheel Tutorial
The steps to make your own Itten's color wheel are listed below.
Jump ahead to a specific section
Part 1: Drawing the Color Wheel
First start off by taking your compass and use it to draw a circle as big as you can within your canvas, or as big as you want your color wheel to be. This will be the outermost border of the color wheel. Draw your outlines lightly, as it will show through opaque paints like watercolors. Also make sure to mark the center of your circle as you need to start at the same origin again for the inner circle.
Next, use your compass to draw another circle within the first circle you drew. This will become the inner circle and will determine the thickness of the color ring. Starting in the same spot as your outer circle, shorten the width of the compass, and use it to draw a smaller circle within it.
Now we will work on the inside of the color wheel. First, start off by drawing a vertical line down the center of the circle using a ruler. To draw this line, I aligned my ruler with the edges of my paper and the center point of my circle. Next, draw horizontal lines at each midpoint between the center of the circle, and the top and bottom of the inner circle. These lines do not need to be drawn past the inner circle, as they will serve as guides for the inner triangle and pentagon.
The bottom horizontal line we drew is actually the base of our triangle. From here, connect each endpoint up to where the vertical line intersects with the top of the inner circle. Our triangle is now done.
Now we need to make the hexagon around the triangle. Fortunately all our guideline markings are in place. Starting at the top point of the triangle, and moving clockwise, connect the points at which the horizontal lines, and vertical line we drew, intersect with the inner circle to form a hexagon around the triangle. Only one more thing left to do before moving on.
Before we move on to dividing up the color ring into sections, we need to split the triangle into 3 parts, one for each primary color. Draw a line from the top left corner of the hexagon to the middle, and a line from the top right corner to the center as well. We'll only use the the part of the line within the triangle so you can just draw that part in, or at the end we will erase any excess lines to clean it up.
Now that we're done with the inside of the color wheel, all that's left is to divide up the outer ring into 12 equal parts. In order to do this, we will use the protractor to measure out sections each 30 degrees wide. First, place the protractor's center hole over the center point of your circle. Then align the 90 degree line on the protractor with your vertical line and the 3 inch line at the bottom of the protractor as well.
Now because each tip of the triangle and pentagon should point to its corresponding spot on the wheel, draw a mark at 15 degrees left of 90 degrees, or 75 degrees on the inner circle. Draw another mark 15 degrees right of 90, or at 115 degrees, on the right side of the inner circle based on the outermost measurements of the protractor. as well. The width of those marks should be 30 degrees in total. From here, just make a mark every 30 degrees around the inner circle until it looks like the picture above.
Once we have all the sections marked out all we need to do is draw in the lines. To do this, line up a a mark and its opposing mark across the circle with your ruler. draw a line across your ruler, but only within the the color ring. Repeat this around the wheel and you will the have 12 equal sections within the ring.
The final step is to just clean up your wheel, and erase any stray marks or unneeded guidlines in your circle. After that your color wheel is now ready for painting!
Part 2: Painting the Color Wheel
The paints I used for this tutorial were the colors primary blue, primary red, and primary yellow from the liquitex basics acrylics line. I mixed my colors on a page of watercolor paper from a notebook I have, and cleaned my brush after every applying every color.
I started off my color wheel by painting in primary yellow, right out of the bottle, not mixed with anything. I painted in the top section of the inner triangle, and the also the section right above it with this yellow.
Next, I painted in the lower left section of the triangle a primary blue, and also the section perpendicular to it. Again I used the pure blue as it comes out of the bottle.
To finish painting in the last section of the triangle I used my primary red and once again painted the section directly perpendicular to it red as well. We are now moving on to color mixing.
The next color I painted, and our first secondary color to appear, is orange. To paint this orange I used a mostly equal ratio of red to yellow, with just a little bit more yellow than red in order to avoid it being too dark. I painted in the right obtuse triangle section, or the right side of the hexagon with it and also the section right across it on the color ring.
The next color I painted was the tertiary color of yellow-orange, which I made by mixing some of the orange I had previously used with more yellow. I then painted in the section between the yellow and orange with it.
After that, the second tertiary color I made was red-orange, which once again used the orange I had previously made, but mixing it with more red this time instead of yellow. I then filled in the section between red and orange with it. This pattern of adding more of a primary color to a secondary color is our formula to make a tertiary color.
Now we'll move across the color wheel to focus on blue and yellow. First we'll mix the secondary color they make between them, which is green. This time I mix around equal parts of yellow and blue to make a nice green. I then use it to paint in the left side of the hexagon and the section directly across from it as well.
After that, we will now mix the tertiary color of blue and green. First I made a yellow green by using some of the green I had mixed before and mixing it with more yellow. This produced a much lighter green, with a more noticible hint of yellow. I painted it in the section between yellow and green.
After finishing that, now we'll mix the tertiary color of blue green. In order to make this color, I actually just used primary blue and added a bit of yellow to it so that the blue-ish shade would show up more. I painted this color in the section between blue and green.
Now we will begin mixing red and blue. Using eual parts red to blue, I made a really strong purple which I painted into the botton section of the hexagon, completing it. I also painted it in the section across it in the color ring. This purple is the last secondary color on the wheel. Now all that's left are more tertiaries.
The second to last color we'll make is a bluish-purple. I mixed primary blue with a bit of the purple we made in order to make this color and then I painted it in between the blue and purple from before.
Finally the last color we'll mix is a reddish-purple, or violet. Again to make this color, I mixed a bit of purple with more red to get this nice transitionary color, or this tertiary. With that your all done! You have now completed your very own color wheel.
For questions or concerns please check out our contact page.