How to Use a Color Wheel for Your Beading Projects

Coloring in this color wheel on my own was a great way to learn more about color theory for bead-weaving.

Choosing colors can be the hardest part of any beading project. For a long time, I just chose colors on a whim. If they worked together, I always thought it was purely by chance. But after doing some intense color studies with bead artist and renowned color expert Margie Deeb, I began to realize that I was actually just trusting my inner color sense.

There are still times when I sit down with one of my beaded jewelry design ideas and have no idea what color seed beads to select before I get started. When that happens, and I feel like I'm totally in a color rut, I break out my trusty rusty color wheel and use that as a jumping off point for mixing and matching colors of beads.

You don't need to understand everything there is to know about color theory before you start using your color wheel. In fact, using your color wheel can teach you a lot about how color theory works!

Tints vs. shades.

To start, look at your color wheel. You'll notice that each color has been sectioned off into other shades (colors that have had black added to them) and tints (colors that have had white added to them.) You'll be using the corresponding numbers on each color to determine a harmonious match or contrast. A shade is generally a darker, more muted color on the color wheel. Tints are generally brighter and more ethereal.

Using your color wheel to select a palette of seed beads.

Next, look at the center of the color wheel. You should see four shapes, each in a different color, and each with a star on one corner of the shape. Slide the center of the wheel around until the star of one shape is pointing at the color that you want to use as your main color. Look to see what other colors the other corners of that particular colored shape are pointing at to determine what colors to choose to accent your main color!

As an example, with the color wheel pictured, if you wanted a basic palette of three colors, you would choose your colors using either the orange or red triangles in the center of the color wheel. A color palette of beads chosen using one of these triangles is also known as a triad.

You could also choose a palette of four colors using either the purple square or the green rectangle in the middle of this color wheel. A color palette of beads made with four colors from these points on the color wheel is called a tetrad.

You can also choose a palette of bead colors called a complimentary palette. Complimentary colors come from opposite sides of the color wheel. So, if you notice the two black arrows across from each other in the center of our color wheel, you'll see that they point to colors opposite each other on the color wheel. Examples of complimentary color pairs are blue and orange, purple and yellow, and red and green.

Playing with your colors.

Download Margie Deeb's Guide to Fearless Color Play for free here on Beading Daily.

Now, it's time to play with your colors! You can download a free color wheel from Color Wheel Artist and use crayons or colored pencils to fill in the spaces, giving you a better idea of how colors are arranged on the color wheel.

If you're looking for more ways to use color more effectively in your bead-weaving, Margie Deeb's website is my all-time favorite place to find ideas, inspiration, and information. Many of the publications in her online shop are available as an instant download, and her Instant Color Wheel Guide will have you using your color wheel more efficiently in just minutes.

What are your questions about using a color wheel with your seed bead patterns? Leave a comment here with your question!

Bead Happy,


P.S. You can read more about my color journey with Margie Deeb in a past Beading Daily blog! Or download Margie's Guide to Fearless Color Play for free from Beading Daily.

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