Color Wheel Challenge (Adobe Illustrator)

by gabemott on January 29, 2011 · 4 comments

This is mostly for Adobe Illustrator users but it should be interesting to everyone.

illustrator blends for color wheelSomething is wrong with this color wheel. The tertiary colors were created using the Adobe Illustrator blend tool. Fix Illustrator’s calculations. The challenge is to create the perfect color wheel using these 12 slices.

DUE: February 5th, 2011
FILE FORMAT: Adobe Illustrator

1. Download the original color wheel Adobe Illustrator file.
2. Using the color wheel with 12 pie slices, correct the tertiary colors where needed (the colors between Yellow, Red, Magenta, Blue, Cyan, Green and Yellow).
3. Make note of your corrections by changing the numbers for rgb.
4. Attach your file to with any commentary in the body of the message.


The RGB and CMY spots are pure- you can debate these elements as you wish, but within the program each is maximized while it’s complement is zeroed out. The primary colors are pure and correct. Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow are fixed as the primary colors. Red, Green and Blue are fixed as the secondary colors. This is all dandy until we get to the tertiary colors.

Based on the calculations by illustrator, using the blend tool, the colors just don’t look right.

There’s something about the way Illustrator calculates the colors between Yellow and Green especially that just looks wrong.

The tertiaries, the colors between Red and Magenta and Green and Cyan favor one of the parents. Mostly, Yellow and Green

Find halations of equal balance. Where you see each edge of the tertiary color slice glow with the opposite parent in an equal balance, you have the proper blend.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Don Jusko February 3, 2011 at 12:48 am

Ha ha, they will do any to keep the red and green opposite, including doubling the pies width. Their going to come around to my Real Color Wheel eventually. It’s the only one that works, plus I show how the colors get darker. They are still using the RGB method of subtracting light to get dark. That’s equivalent to adding black pigment. I’m glad someone is paying attention regarding color. I’ll get to your “Challenge” tomorrow, it’s late tonight already.

2 David Briggs February 7, 2011 at 2:23 am

Very tricky problem indeed, Gabe, if you want to preserve the relationship of opposite colours being additive complementaries. I’d like to shift the orange and the yellow-green sectors closer to yellow, but that would require shifting both the opposite sectors TOWARDS blue.

3 Zach August 26, 2012 at 4:33 am

No, this is the accurate representation of the colors divided into 12 parts. It’s nice to see someone actually got it right, I’m sick of seeing all the wrong ones. If you understand intervals, it’s easy to find complementary colors. Just look for major 3rd, perfect 4th, perfect 5th and major 6th intervals mainly. There’s more to it but I don’t feel like explaining. On this, colors directly opposite are the true opposites. If you stare at the color red, then look at a white surface, you will see cyan. Same holds true for the other colors. Sorry to break it to you, but red blue and yellow are not the primaries. yellow is not

4 gabemott August 27, 2012 at 1:16 pm

@Zach, Thanks for the post. I talked about the complements and made my shot at a hand blended color wheel on illustrator here:
Talks about your point that you can deduce the complements visually leveraging after image.

Your last comment isn’t clear “red blue and yellow are not the primaries. yellow is not”..

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