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Unlock Your Creativity with Adobe Color Wheel

Updated: Nov 14

Adobe Color Wheel

Adobe Color Wheel, a free online tool designed for visual creators, has become an invaluable resource in the world of digital color. Offering endless inspiration to photographers, designers, and anyone intrigued by the fascinating world of color, the Adobe Color Wheel is designed to help users understand and apply color theory in their creative endeavors.

In this guide to the Adobe Color Wheel, you will learn all about the Adobe Color Wheel, how to use it effectively, and how it can enhance your understanding of color.

I am RayCee the Artist, a professional portrait photographer, event photographer, and digital artist. If you would like to schedule a photoshoot with me, please contact me at!

Also, be sure to follow me on Instagram and YouTube!

Delving into the Adobe Color Wheel

Adobe Color Wheel

Adobe Color Wheel is a free online tool that leverages the color wheel, a method of categorizing colors invented by Isaac Newton in 1666. This tool allows you to generate color palettes using the wheel and color harmony rules, serving as a foundation for understanding color theory and its applications in art, design, and beyond.

The Adobe color wheel is a traditional color wheel that uses the three primary colors red, yellow, and blue. The secondary colors on the Adobe color wheel are orange, green, and purple. The tertiary colors are red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, and red-violet.

The Adobe Color Wheel offers ten color harmonies, supports three color modes, and assists in creating gradients and checking contrast ratios. It even matches colors to a specific mood. If you're seeking inspiration, the Adobe Color Wheel provides a rich color theme library. Furthermore, as part of Adobe's product suite, it synchronizes seamlessly with other Adobe apps like Creative Cloud, Adobe Express, Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, Behance, and Stock.

Understanding the Color Wheel

Adobe Color Wheel

The color wheel is a circular representation of all colors available in a color space. Similar colors stand next to each other, while contrasting colors occupy opposite positions (analagous colors next to each other and complementary colors opposite each other). The closer the colors are to the center of the wheel, the higher their brightness will be.

As a visual tool, the color wheel is instrumental in finding analogous, complementary, or any other significant color combinations. Adobe Color Wheel lets you select one color from the color harmony and automatically adjusts the rest. You can fine-tune your color by dragging cursors or setting numeric values for each of its color mode components (e.g., R, G, B, and luminosity for the RGB color mode).

Each color theme includes five colors, leaving room for creativity. Every artist knows that nuances matter, and there isn't just one nuance of yellow or blue.

Adobe Color Wheel's Ten Color Harmony Schemes

The Adobe Color Wheel offers ten color harmony schemes, each serving a unique purpose. Each is also known as a color harmony rule:


This scheme involves similar colors positioned next to each other on the color wheel, creating a moody, atmospheric color theme.


Here, the color theme includes five colors positioned on one of the wheel's rays. They are brighter or darker tones of the same color, useful for creating themes around iconic colors.


This harmony includes three equidistant colors on the color wheel, creating a well-balanced color contrast popular in design.


Complementary colors sit opposite each other on the color wheel. The theme includes two colors similar to the base color and two complementary ones, capturing the viewer's attention with a vibrant color contrast.

Split Complementary

This scheme is a version of the complementary color scheme with four colors slightly closer to the base color than the exact complementary color.

Double Split Complementary

This version of the complementary color scheme includes two colors slightly similar to the base color and two close to the complementary color.


This theme includes three colors sitting at equal distances from the base color and one color very similar to the base color for reinforcement.


This color scheme features two colors similar to the base color and two almost perfect complementary ones, placing color variations on the same side for a more harmonious effect.


This is a monochromatic color theme that keeps the variations between the five colors at a minimum.


This is the user's chance to imagine any five-color combination. There are no restrictions or support from the tool.

Using Adobe Color Wheel: Practical Applications

Adobe Color Wheel

Adobe Color Wheel (also known as Adobe Chromatic Wheel) extends its utility far beyond the world of visual artists. Thanks to its seamless integration with other Adobe products, you can easily find what you need and share it with your current editing software. Here are the most common ways you can harness the power of Adobe Color Wheel:

Design a Color Theme

Start with a base color and a design concept. Consider the level of contrast you want and the mood you wish to convey. Plotting a color theme is Adobe Color Wheel's primary function. It's perfect for graphic design, fashion styling, and photography.

For instance, you might have a background you can't change, such as a sunset over the ocean. Adobe Color Wheel can help you find what colors your model should wear to stand out in your photos.

Extract a Theme from a Photo

You might have a photograph that perfectly captures the color mood you want. You can import this photograph into Adobe Color Wheel and let it create a palette for that look by selecting five colors from the image.

Each color in the palette is adjustable and ready to be copied and used in your designs. For instance, you could design a wedding photo album to match the wedding's color palette.

Extract a Gradient Map from a Photo

If you want to create a smooth gradient map from an existing image, Adobe Color Wheel is your go-to tool. Simply load the image and choose the number of gradient stops (between 2 and 15). The program generates a color theme that subtly transitions from one color to another.

Check Contrast

The Contrast Checker feature of Adobe Color Picker allows you to verify that you've chosen the right colors for your design or photography composition. For example, you can check the contrast ratio between the background color and the text color, the colors of a landscape and the model's outfit, or the color of an artificial background and a commercial product.

Check for Color Blind Issues

As a responsible creator, you don't want to create confusion for people with color blindness. Adobe Color's Color Blind Safe feature lets you verify that your color theme doesn't have color conflicts. It even includes a simulator for different types of color blindness, such as Deuteranopia, Protanopia, and Tritanopia.

Find Inspiration

Adobe Color Wheel (aka Adobe Chromatic Wheel) can also be a source of inspiration. The tool includes a diverse color theme library organized by color, mood, and keywords. You can upload an image and look for color themes that resemble the one in your photo.


The Adobe Color Wheel (or Adobe Chromatic Wheel) is a powerful tool for working with colors in any artistic field. It's free, accessible through any device, and can be used to design color themes for photo sessions, graphic design, or interior design. You can also use the Adobe Color Selector to match your outfit or find the best color adjustments to apply to your photographs. The possibilities are endless with the Adobe Color Picker.

I am RayCee the Artist, a professional portrait photographer, event photographer, and digital artist. If you would like to schedule a photoshoot with me, please contact me at!

Also, be sure to follow me on Instagram and YouTube!

-RayCee the Artist


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