Friday, May 12, 2017

How to Make a Color Wheel for your Art Journal by Martice Smith II

How to Make a Color Wheel for your Art Journal

By Martice Smith II

Hi everyone! Martice Smith here, sharing a tool that every artist, no matter their skill-level, uses at some point in their creative projects; a color wheel!
Color is definitely my thing. I admire how people respond to color in different ways. We know what we like and don’t like about colors and their combinations.

I understand the frustrations of not being able to mix that perfect color from your imagination. Learning the basics of color theory will help you immensely. I promise, if you are open to experimenting and playing with color, it’ll be so much easier to mix up your own, unique colors and apply them to your work and what you want to express. If you’re ready to slosh paint around, you’re in the right place!

Here’s what you’ll need:


Supplies + Tools:
  • Acrylics (primary colors: Red, Yellow, Blue)
  • Art journal
  • Container of water + rag
  • Scissors and X-Acto knife
  • Cutting mat
  • One (1) Brass fastener
  • Small Paintbrush, round
  • Pencil

Do a quick Google search for “color wheel” and you will discover that most of the color wheels out there have a total of 12 colors laid out in ROY G BIV formation: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet plus a few more variations to each color.

Take a look at the Dart Board stencil. There are 20 sections (square-like shapes) to place your colors. I decided to use all 20 but you can combine the sections to create fewer squares. I'll explain why I used all 20 a little bit later in the tutorial.
STEP 1 // Trace and cut out the color wheel
Place the stencil on a clean page in your journal or on a separate sheet of white cardstock and trace around it with a pencil.

Next, cut the circle out with scissors.
STEP 2 // Mix colors and paint your color wheel
My favorite part!
Most of the time, I like to create my own colors by mixing them. Yes, it may be a little more time consuming to do it this way but I enjoy it almost as much as I enjoy donuts for breakfast.

Mixing colors
I applied a drop of fluid acrylics to my paint palette then began mixing them with to create all the colors of the rainbow.

- 3 primary (Red, Yellow, Blue)
- 3 secondary  (Orange, Green, Purple)
- 6 tertiary (1 primary + 1 secondary mixed together, i.e. greenish yellow)

TIP: Change your water at least once during your color mixing session. Dirty, or muddy looking water significantly changes the saturation of your pure colors.

Paint your color wheel
Reference the color wheel you found during your Google search to make sure you're matching and placing the colors in their respective locations.

Here's why I chose to paint all 20 sections/squares from the stencil:
I like to mix my colors to have slight variations.

What do I mean by variations? Basically, when I’m mixing colors, I like to have a warm yellow, cool yellow, and a “just right”, or pure yellow. (That's one of my secrets on how to make my paintings pop with bold, vibrant colors.)

Since there are extra squares in the stencil, I can incorporate these variations into my color wheel. (Check out those variations of yellow in the photo and you'll see what I mean…)
STEP 3// Trace the stencil to create a “base”

Trace the color wheel onto a page of your art journal, just as you did in STEP 1. This will be the “base” of the color wheel. (Best place, for me, is to have it on the very first page in my journal.) Keep the stencil in place for the next step.

Trace four of the sections on the right hand side. These colors will be your analogous color blocks.

Place a self-healing cutting mat under your paper then, using a sharp X-Acto knife, cut out each section.

Directly across, on the opposite side of the stencil, trace through one section. This will be the complementary color block. Cut out this section, as well.

Next, find the center of the stencil and mark it with a small “x”. Remove stencil and cut the “x”using the X-Acto knife.

STEP 4// Secure the color wheel
Position the color wheel UNDERNEATH the base.

Push a brass fastener through both centers, secure it on the back side of the page and you're done.

Now you will never have to guess what color works best with your paintings!

Let me show you how I put this color wheel to use in a couple of my abstract paintings:
Example #1: The main color here is blue. I turned the wheel so that pure blue showed through the single window. The color wheel shows me what four analogous colors would work in harmony with this blue.
Example #2: The main colors here are warm purples, (more red than blue has been mixed in to create this color), peach and splashes of turquoise.

I turned the wheel so that medium-purple hues appear in the analogous color blocks. It tells me that a warm yellow would complement this painting perfectly. (That could be anything from yellow-orange, pale yellow to gold.)

Thank you for visiting us today! I hope you enjoy making your very own color wheel and learning how to choose the perfect colors for your art projects.

Share your projects with us!
Tag @stencilgirl_products and @MarticeSmithArt or use the hashtag #stencilgirl
To learn more about Martice and her mixed media art tutorials, please visit her website or follow the inspiration trail on her Instagram  @MarticeSmithArt.


  1. What a wonderful idea ❤️❤️❤️

  2. Just added this stencil to my cart to use in the Hacking The Color Wheel class!!! Can't wait. 🎉

  3. I need to make this! Great idea! I'm still a newbie when it comes to colors. Thanks Martice.


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