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The majority of ‘kuler’s’ most popular color schemes are not harmonious

A look at the 100 most popular color schemes on Adobes ‘kuler’ color tool and color community site reveals that a large majority of color schemes fall outside the rules of color theory. That makes us wonder if peoples practice is ugly and unharmonious, or there is a flaw in the theory.


Some color schemes published at


This result is even more surprising as ‘kuler’ has the rules readily available as built in schemes and also allows improvement of shades or hues. But even with the liberty of interpretation, only 40 color schemes resembled the rules to some extent. If the rules were to be taken as Johannes Itten intended them, he would have found only 8 color schemes to match his theory. To learn more about color theory visit

More than half of all color schemes fall into the category ‘custom’ and are designed with total freedom. If you add compound schemes, interesting colors from multiple hues, and shades which are described as subtle variations of the base color’s hue, one arrives at a stunning two third of the most popular schemes ignoring what is thought to be the accepted rule in designing with color.

From the 6 rules of color harmony only two enjoy some appreciation: analogue color schemes, characterized by the adjacent hue of the colors and complementary schemes, combining colors from opposite sites of the color wheel. The order of the original color wheel is based on the three primaries; red, blue and yellow. This leads to, for example, the complementary pair of magenta and yellow. At ‘kuler’ magenta opposes a green, as it would happen if the wheel would be build up by two opposing axis red-green and blue-yellow. This is called the opponent theory and led to color spaces, which are by most physiologist believed to accurately describe the color order as perceived by humans.

Suspiciously the creative community seams to ignore not only knowledge created and accepted in other disciplines but also manages to ignore their own practice. Once the reality that color theory fails to explain color preferences gets accepted, one can again start to wonder: what is the secret of a great color sense?


This is about to become a place for color. Color basics, how to color things and make color schemes, some thoughts about color and some color research will be posted here. This way I will learn if my ways with color have some value to you and the world. Hello world!