Colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel are considered to be complementary colors. Complementary color schemes tend to bring out the best in each other and create high contrast when placed next to each other. Using complementary colors together can help add visual interest and vibrancy to a design. When determining if two colors are complementary, it’s important to look at the color wheel and see if they are directly across from each other.
What does it mean for colors to be complementary?
Complementary colors are color pairs that are opposite one another on the color wheel. Some examples of complementary color pairs include:
- Red and green
- Yellow and purple
- Blue and orange
When complementary colors are placed next to or near each other, they create a high amount of visual contrast and make each color appear more vibrant. The high contrast helps the colors stand out from one another, which creates a dynamic and eye-catching visual effect. Complementary colors are often used together in graphic design, photography, interior design, fashion, and more to make elements stand out on the page or in a space.
How to determine if colors are complementary
To check if two colors are complementary, you can refer to a color wheel. The traditional RYB color wheel has 12 main colors on it. Complementary colors will be located directly across from each other on this color wheel. For example, on the RYB color wheel, red is located across from green, yellow is located across from purple, and blue is located across from orange. This opposite positioning indicates that these color pairs are complementary.
Some tips for identifying complementary color pairs:
- Find one color on the color wheel, then look directly across from it to find its complement
- Colors that are next to each other on the color wheel are analogous colors, not complements
- Complementary colors may also be called “opposite colors” since they sit opposites each other
Knowing some common complementary color pairs like red/green, blue/orange, and yellow/purple can help you quickly identify complementary colors.
Are pink and yellow complementary colors?
Pink and yellow are not complementary colors. While they can create nice color combinations, pink and yellow are not located directly across from one another on the traditional RYB color wheel. So they don’t satisfy the technical definition of being complementary colors.
However, different variations of pink and yellow can work well together and still provide some visual contrast. For example, a light pastel pink paired with a bright lemon yellow would work nicely. The lightness of the pink and the brightness of the yellow help create contrast.
Here are some examples of pink and yellow color combinations:
|Pink Variation||Yellow Variation|
|Pastel pink||Bright yellow|
|Dusty pink||Mustard yellow|
|Salmon pink||Golden yellow|
While not complementary colors, adjusting the shades and tones of pink and yellow used together can help create appealing color combinations for design projects requiring these hues.
How pink and yellow can work well together
There are a few reasons why pink and yellow can work well together, even though they are not technically complementary colors:
- They have enough visual contrast to stand out – Yellow has a brightness that makes it pop next to soft pink.
- They are both cheery, uplifting colors – Pink and yellow both tend to create a positive, cheerful mood.
- They are versatile – There are many shades and tones to work with.
- They are gender neutral – Pink and yellow can appeal to all genders.
Pink and yellow are commonly paired together in things like wedding decor, baby shower invitations, floral arrangements, clothing and accessory designs, bakery packaging, party decorations, and more.
Some tips for pairing pink and yellow:
- Use a soft pink with a bright yellow for maximum contrast
- Add white space between the colors to let them stand out
- Repeat them in different patterns and textures
- Use one as an accent color to the other
Both colors convey cheerfulness, energy, optimism, creativity, and freshness. Using variations in shade and tone can help you find the perfect pink and yellow color combination.
How to create color harmony with pink and yellow
There are a few ways to create color harmony when working with pink and yellow:
Use tints and shades
Keep the colors within the same tonal family by lightening the pink and darkening the yellow. For example, pair a light pink with a golden yellow.
Adjust saturation levels, making one color muted and the other bright. For instance, a muted dusty pink goes well with a bright lemony yellow.
Add neutral transitions
Add whites, blacks, grays, or browns between the colors to transition them. The neutral colors act as bridges between the pink and yellow.
Repeat colors in patterns
Repeating the two colors in similar patterns and textures ties them together visually. For example, pink and yellow stripes or florals.
Limit color palettes
Using minimal extra colors beyond the pink and yellow keeps the color palette cohesive. Add one or two additional accent colors at most.
While pink and yellow may not be complementary colors, they can still be combined in harmonious, pleasing ways through careful manipulation of their tints, tones, shades, and color palettes.
Common color schemes with pink and yellow
Some popular color schemes that pair pink and yellow include:
Analogous colors sit next to each other on the color wheel, creating cohesive color harmony. Pink, red-orange, yellow is an analogous combination.
Triadic color schemes use three colors equally spaced around the color wheel. Pink, yellow, and blue-green form a triadic combination.
This scheme uses one base color, plus the two colors on either side of its complement. For pink and yellow, this could be pink, yellow-green, blue.
Monochromatic palettes use shades, tones, and tints of one single base color like pink or yellow.
Carefully choosing complementary colors and color schemes involving pink and yellow creates aesthetically pleasing results. Remember to use enough contrast between the colors and repeat colors to tie the palette together.
Examples of pink and yellow color combinations
Here are some examples of appealing pink and yellow color combinations:
|Pastel pink, bright yellow, white||Soft pastel pink and bright lemon yellow have good contrast, while white gives space between the colors.|
|Salmon pink, golden yellow, navy||The warm pairing of salmon pink and golden yellow is deepened by rich navy accents.|
|Dusty pink, gray, mustard yellow||Mustard yellow pops against muted dusty pink. Gray acts as a transition between the colors.|
These examples demonstrate ways of balancing and transitioning pink and yellow through tone, shade, and neutral colors to create appealing combinations.
Tips for decorating with pink and yellow
Here are some tips for effectively using pink and yellow together in home decor or event decorating:
- Use yellow as an accent color against a soft pink background for contrast and pop.
- Mix patterns like floral pink wallpaper with yellow striped pillows to tie the colors together.
- Paint architectural elements like moldings or doors in one color and walls in the other.
- Add white, metallics like gold and silver, or wood tones to transition between the colors.
- Layer light pink and yellow sheets and throws on a bed.
- Display yellow flowers like daffodils in pink vases.
- Incorporate yellow-and-white striped details into a primarily pink space.
Avoid going overboard with bright, saturated versions of both colors. Stick to lighter soft pinks and bright fresh yellows for the most appealing combinations.
Creative ways to use pink and yellow together
Beyond basic walls, pillows, and floral arrangements, here are some creative ways to stylishly combine pink and yellow:
- Yellow velvet couch with pink throw pillows
- Pink tablecloth with yellow napkins
- Yellow paper flowers for pink gift wrapping
- Macaron tower with pink and yellow macarons
- Pink cake with yellow drip icing
- Pink and yellow mosaic tile backsplash
- Pink balloon wall with yellow accents
- Yellow craft storage bins for a pink craft room
- Pink lemonade with yellow garnishes
In clothing and accessories, pink and yellow can make fun statement pieces. Some ideas include:
- A pink skirt with yellow polka dots
- A yellow handbag with pink straps
- Pink shoes with yellow laces
- Yellow socks worn with a pink outfit
- Pink sunglasses with yellow mirrored lenses
Incorporating pink and yellow creatively together makes for an uplifting, cheerful aesthetic in home decor, events, clothing, and more.
In summary, while pink and yellow are not technically complementary colors, they can still be combined in aesthetically pleasing ways. Light pinks and bright yellows tend to create enough visual contrast for harmony. Carefully choosing color variations, adding transition shades, and repeating color patterns helps unify the colors.
Pink and yellow are upbeat, lively hues that are highly versatile across industries from interior decor to fashion when balanced thoughtfully. So while not direct color wheel opposites, pink and yellow can still be used together to inject a space with energy, joy, and positivity.