How to draw a Color Wheel With Colored Pencils – Simple & Easy

how to draw a color wheel

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A long time ago when you were in an elementary school art class, you may have made a color wheel. At the very least, your art teacher probably showed the class a color wheel and talked about the different kinds of colors that you will find on a color wheel. Besides just learning about the primary and secondary colors and color theory, learning how to draw a color wheel yourself can give you practice on creating new colors with whatever art media that you choose to use.

As an artist, learning how to draw a color wheel is a skill that is still useful when using colored pencils despite the fact that colored pencils come in such a wide variety of colors and shades.

In this post you will learn not only how to draw a color wheel but why you should make one. Sure you can just download one but if you do, you will miss out on a valuable lesson…

How to Draw a Color Wheel With Colored Pencils

You may be able to find a free printable color wheel and instructions for filling in the blanks online. But you can also make your own if you want by dividing a circle up into 12 wedges, it’s actually really easy and fun to do.

You can use a compass to draw a circle, or you can just trace the outline of a plate, plastic lid or other round template.

Circle for a color wheel
draw a circle

Then, divide the circle in half and split each half into two quarters. Each quarter should then be divided into three equal wedges. 

Circle for a color wheel 2
divide the circle in half
Circle for a color wheel 3
split the wheel into quarters
Circle for a color wheel 4
each quarter should be divided into 3 like this
Circle for a color wheel 5
Divide each quarter into 3 so it looks like this

The main colors of a color wheel are red, yellow, and blue. These are the primary colors, and in your color wheel, there will be three wedges between each primary color.

Circle for a color wheel 6
make sure the primary colors are in this sequence or there won’t be space for secondary and tertiary colors

On either side of the primary colors there will be a wedge that you can label “tertiary colors.” I did this after I labelled the secondary colors on my diagram. Between two tertiary colors are what are called “secondary colors.”

Label your wedges as primary colors, secondary colors, and tertiary colors. In the color wheel, there are three primary colors (blue, red and yellow), three secondary colors (green, orange, purple/violet), and six tertiary colors. Every other wedge is a tertiary color. 

Color in the primary colors with those colored pencils. The secondary colors are made up of a one to one mixture of your primary colors. You will need two layers of color for secondary colors, one for each adjacent primary color.

So, your color wheel, after you have filled in the primary and secondary colors will have the following pattern for the wedges: red, blank wedge, orange, blank wedge, yellow, blank wedge, green, blank wedge, blue, blank wedge, purple, and a blank wedge. 

Circle for a color wheel 7

Tertiary colors are made by combining neighboring primary colors and secondary colors. For instance, yellow orange is a combination of yellow (primary) and orange (secondary).

Fill in the tertiary colors in your color wheel. 

how to draw a color wheel

As you work, you should definitely label the kinds of colors you are making, like the primary, tertiary, and secondary colors. You also may want to make notes about which pencils you used to create the colors and how many layers were used of each one. 

You can use a blender as you create the layers so that the colored pencils will blend well. If you are a true beginning artist, and you’ve wondered what is the easiest to draw with colored pencils, a color wheel is probably one of the simplest things for you to start with.

Why Draw a Color Wheel For Colored Pencils?

If you are a total beginner to the world of colored pencils, a color wheel is a useful tool for finding what colors work well together in a particular composition. You may be starting out in drawing with colored pencils by using the photographs or drawings of another artist as composition ideas.

However, you will probably eventually want to create your own compositions from which you will draw. Knowing the basics of color theory and having a color wheel to help you remember how the colors play off of one another will help you create interesting, eye-catching drawings. 

When you create your own, making a color wheel will give you good practice in learning to blend colors to create new ones from nothing more than three primary colors.

After all, blending is something that those who use colored pencils must do quite often.

Of course, colored pencils are available in a wide variety of shades. However, what happens if you are looking for a specific, particular color, and you do not have it on hand?

When you know how to create colors, you won’t have to make a last minute dash to the art supply store to finish your drawing.

You can use primary colors to make layers of colored pencil shading which will generate a vast number of color tints and hues. 

How do you draw a basic color wheel?

While we have gone through how to draw a color wheel and we covered primary colors, secondary colors and tertiary colors you can also take it back a step and just draw a basic color wheel as a start.

To start drawing a basic color wheel you need to ensure you have a color wheel template of some sort. If you don’t know where to start just copy the image below in freehand.

Always start by drawing a circle that has color gradation (gradually changing color shade) so from the middle to the outside edge of your color wheel.

While simple color wheels only primary colors you need to make sure the colors you are using suit the style of art you create or match the color palette that you typically use in your art. It is no use creating a color wheel of bright colors if you tend to create artworks using muted colors or mostly monotone colors.

So I think it is ok to have a simple color wheel that starts with secondary colors or tertiary colors that suit your palette.

When you use colored pencils, color makers or color markers, make sure it is not mixed as each color will tend to look differently depending if it’s drawn with a single color (using black generally does not look nice).

Use one color only in any given row and for any given row i.e. red only for row 1, yellow only for row 2 etc. I think this will help learners who are trying to improve their skills in creating color wheels.

For a simple color wheel, try avoid drawing too many color lines but try to produce a smooth looking color wheel. Keep it simple.

When you feel you need to extend the basic color wheel then go back to the previous steps and start adding secondary and tertiary colors.

Using a Color Wheel to Learn About Color Relationships

So now that you have a color wheel, what are you actually going to do with it? First, as you make a color wheel, you may want to make a few notes around the edges about which colored pencils that you used in creating it.

Later on when you are making a sketch or piece of art, having the color wheel handy can help you remember how to make a certain hue of color that would be perfect for the picture you’re sketching. 

Second, knowing the relationships between various colors can help you with planning the composition of your drawings. If you are a beginning artist, you may not realize that certain colors and color pairings can generate emotion, energy, or ideas in those who are observing the artwork.

Reds and yellows are high energy, lively colors, while blues and greens are soothing and relaxing colors. The way that you pair colors can also create a mood in your drawing. Using a color wheel can help you convey the general feeling that your artwork is meant to invoke. 

Complementary colors are located across from one another on the color wheel. When you pair complementary colors, both colors contrast with one another and enhance one another’s intensity.

When you are creating a drawing in which you wish to indicate high energy and excitement, complementary colors are the way to go.

Analogous colors are located close to one another on the color wheel. When you pair colors that are located close by each other on the wheel, your drawings will be more soothing and relaxing.

Usually artists create a drawing around one color, adding a second analogous color to support the initial choice, and a third color that is used as an accent. Analogous colors are often used when artists depict nature and natural settings.

Color wheels are the first step in understanding color theory. Although you may not study all of the particulars of color theory, understanding how colors work together and are made from other shades and colors will definitely be useful as you pursue art.

Making a color wheel infographic

Wrap up – How to draw a color wheel with colored pencils

I hope you enjoyed reading “How to draw a color wheel with colored pencils”“.

If after reading this post you still think that creating your own color wheel is too much work you can always purchase workbooks such as the one below by Katie Fowler that shows you how to create a color wheel step by step in a workbook format that is easy to follow.

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