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What are examples of triadic colors?

What are examples of triadic colors?

Triadic color schemes use colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel. They are made up of three colors that form a triangle on the color wheel, hence the name “triadic.” Triadic color schemes tend to be bold, vibrant, and energetic. Some examples of triadic color combinations include:

Primary Triadic Colors

The primary triadic colors are red, blue, and yellow. These are the three colors that make up the corners of the color wheel. When used together, they form a very bright, playful color scheme.

Red #FF0000
Yellow #FFFF00
Blue #0000FF

Red, yellow, and blue are versatile colors that work well in designs for children. They are often used together in illustrations or graphic designs that need a fun, youthful feel. Primary colors also work well for grabbing attention. Using all three primary colors together creates visual interest and activates multiple parts of the color spectrum.

Secondary Triadic Colors

The secondary triadic colors are violet, green, and orange. These colors fall halfway between the primary colors on the color wheel. A secondary triadic color scheme has a less intense appearance than primary colors but still provides strong visual contrast.

Violet #9400D3
Green #00FF00
Orange #FF7F00

Secondary triadic color schemes have a bright yet more sophisticated look than primary triads. The combination of violet, green, and orange works well for designs that need vibrancy paired with a more refined color palette. It provides contrast while maintaining intermediate tones between the extremes of the primaries.

Tertiary Triadic Colors

Tertiary colors fill in the gaps between the primary and secondary colors on the wheel. Some examples of tertiary triadic color combinations include:

  • Red-violet, Yellow-green, Blue-green
  • Red-orange, Yellow-orange, Blue-violet
  • Red-violet, Yellow-orange, Blue-green

Tertiary triads have a muddy, earthy appearance that can be utilized for natural themes. These colors are not as starkly contrasting as primary or secondary triads but offer a more nuanced approach. Using adjacent tertiary hues creates harmony and visual interest.

Analogous Triadic Colors

Choosing three analogous colors, meaning colors that are next to each other on the color wheel, creates a triad with subtle contrast. Some examples include:

  • Yellow-orange, Yellow, Yellow-green
  • Blue-violet, Blue, Blue-green
  • Red-violet, Red, Red-orange

The analogous colors have a cohesive, harmonious feeling. This triad works well when you want a color scheme that blends smoothly across the spectrum. It is often used for landscapes or nature themes. The colors are vibrant without clashing.

Split Complementary Triadic Colors

A split complementary scheme uses one base color plus the two colors on either side of its complement. For example:

  • Red, Yellow-green, Blue-green
  • Orange, Blue-violet, Blue-green
  • Yellow, Violet, Red-violet

This creates a triad with a strong central color that is supported by soft complementary hues on each side. It offers more subtle contrast than a standard triadic scheme. The split complementary palette works well for designs that need a focal color with harmonic support.

Rectangle (Tetradic) Triadic Colors

A tetradic color scheme uses two complementary pairs of colors to form a rectangle on the color wheel. Some examples include:

  • Red, Yellow, Blue, Green
  • Red-orange, Yellow-green, Blue-violet, Blue-green
  • Red, Orange, Violet, Blue-green

Tetradic color schemes offer maximum contrast because they use two sets of complementary colors. This creates vibrant, electric visual effects. Using a balanced rectangle ensures that all four colors are evenly represented for striking results.

Square Triadic Colors

A square color scheme is similar to a tetradic one, but with all four colors spaced evenly around the color wheel. Some examples are:

  • Red, Yellow, Green, Blue-violet
  • Red-violet, Yellow-orange, Green, Blue
  • Violet, Orange, Spring green, Red

Square color schemes also contain very strong contrast, but the evenly spaced colors create more tension and vibrancy than tetradic schemes. The square look works well for designs that need a bold, energetic, youthful feel with maximum color separation.

Other Examples of Triadic Color Combinations

In addition to the basic types above, many other triadic color schemes are possible by selecting creative hues around the wheel. Here are some more examples:

Pink #FFC0CB
Mint #B6FFC8
Lavender #CBAACB

A soft pastel triad like pink, mint, and lavender creates an Easter egg effect. These muted, feminine colors work well for spring designs.

Turquoise #40E0D0
Magenta #FF00FF
Gold #FFD700

Turquoise, magenta, and gold make a bright retro combination. These neon hues have a 1980s vibe perfect for funky, psychedelic designs.

Burgundy #800020
Navy #000080
Forest Green #228B22

Rich shades like burgundy, navy, and forest green create an elegant, upscale look. This darker triad works well for formal projects like invitations or logos.

Why Use Triadic Color Schemes?

Triadic colors offer many benefits for designers and artists. Some key advantages include:

  • Contrast – Triads maximize color contrast due to their evenly spaced position on the color wheel, especially primary and secondary triads.
  • Vibrancy – The dynamic tension between triadic colors results in bold, vivid visual effects.
  • Versatility – Many different triadic combinations are possible by selecting colors evenly around the wheel.
  • Harmony – Though vivid, triadic colors have an inherent visual harmony due to their triangle relationship.
  • Attention – Triadic color schemes command attention and stand out boldly, making them ideal for posters, presentations, etc.

The contrast, vibrancy, and harmony of triadic colors make them an excellent choice for projects where color is an important design element. Triads allow designers to use color creatively while maintaining balance and cohesion.

Tips for Using Triadic Colors

When using triadic color schemes, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Use one color as a dominant shade, with the other two for accents.
  • Balance brightly saturated triads with neutral tones like white, black, or gray.
  • Adjust the saturation of the colors to create different moods and feelings.
  • Use lighter tints of the colors for a soft, pastel look.
  • Introduce texture and interest with gradations between the three colors.
  • Pair cool with warm triads for lively contrast.
  • Try splitting complementary colors for more subtle triadic combinations.

Carefully balancing and integrating triadic colors creates attractive, stimulating designs. But triads can appear jarring if not combined thoughtfully. Use one color as the foundation and add complementary tones delicately as accents.


Triadic color schemes offer designers a versatile way to combine colors for maximum visual impact. The inherent vibrancy and contrast of triads makes them ideal for projects where bold, dynamic colors are desired. From primary and secondary colors to analogous, complementary, and tetradic triads, many possibilities exist by selecting three evenly spaced hues around the color wheel. With thoughtful application, triadic colors can create harmonious designs that pop with energetic color.