How to Draw a 12-Point Color Wheel

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The color wheel is the basis that artists of all mediums use to produce attractive, cohesive artworks. By using a 12-point color wheel, an artist is able to have a visual representation of primary, secondary and tertiary colors all at one glance. In addition to the basic color families, the wheel also helps to locate more advanced groupings of colors based on harmony types. These types include analogous, those colors located side by side on the wheel, and complementary, those colors located directly opposite of each other on the wheel.

  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Protractor
  • Large circular object
  • Red, yellow and blue acrylic paints
  • Paintbrush
  • Water cup
  • Paper towel

1 Instructions

2 Trace

Trace a circle onto sheet of paper using a pencil and large circular object. Plates, large bowls and take-out containers often are the perfect size.

3 Divide circle into 12 even

Divide circle into 12 even sections using the protractor. Each section should have a 30-degree angle to ensure sections are equal. To do this, place marks at 30-degree intervals inside of circle and then connect the lines from the center of the circle out to the edges.

4 Paint

Paint blue-to-yellow color family by starting with pure blue. There will be exactly four colors within this grouping. To ensure that colors remain equal, it is best to start with a solid color and add in more of the second color with each wedge. The first wedge should be pure blue, the second wedge should be two parts blue to one part yellow, the third should be equal parts blue and yellow and the fourth wedge should be one part blue to two parts yellow.

5 Rinse the brush

Rinse the brush in the water cup and pat dry with a paper towel between color families to ensure each primary family is in its purest state while starting a new grouping of four colors.

6 Repeat step 3

Repeat step 3 using the yellow-to-red color family. Keep the same color distributions as used in the previous step, as the step between orange and red can often be difficult to obtain without using the proper amounts of paint.

7 Rinse the brush-2

Rinse the brush in the water cup and pat dry with the paper towel again.

8 Finish the color wheel

Finish the color wheel by painting the red-to-blue color family. Just as the step between orange and red can be difficult to achieve, the step between violet and blue can be as well. The ideal color in this step is royal blue and uses two parts blue and one part red.

  • It is important to clean the brush before starting each primary color. If previously used paint colors remain in the brush, primary colors can be muddy. Also, be sure only to pat the brush dry with a paper towel, as rubbing or tapping can damage the bristles.
  • To obtain a more finished look, the color wheel can be outlined using 1/8-inch painter's tape.

Areil Sutton holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Technology and a Master of Professional Studies degree in Organizational Leadership and Information Systems Management. Since 2010, she has held a position as a certified technical trainer and application engineer in an education regional service agency.