Comments 21

Coloring Mandalas – How to Choose Colors to Create Color Harmony

Color Wheel

Do you ever struggle with which colors to pick when coloring your mandalas? Do you find yourself reaching for the same colors? In this week’s post I share with you an introduction to color design theory.

I personally think it is really cool to see how the colors are mapped out on a color wheel and to see the relationships of colors. To create the examples for this post I drew one mandala and photocopied it so I could illustrate the different color arrangements. It is a wonderful exercise to become familiar with different color palettes. I encourage you to try this exercise.



Primary Colors

Any study of color begins with the primary colors: red, blue, and yellow. What makes them primary? Well, you can’t create them. No mixing of other colors will produce these three. From these three colors all of the other colors are made. Cool, isn’t it?



Secondary Colors

The secondary colors, orange, purple, and green are made by mixing two primary colors.

Orange = Red + Yellow

Purple = Red + Blue

Green = Blue + Yellow


Tertiary Colors

There are six tertiary colors derived from mixing a primary and a secondary color.







Notice how the primary and secondary that we are mixing are next to each other on the color wheel.



Complementary Colors

Red – Green

Two colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel are called complementary. In each complementary pair we have a primary and a secondary color. The result is a very vibrant because the colors are so far from each other on the color wheel.

Color Theory - Complementary Blue Orange


Complementary Colors

Blue – Orange

This color scheme is very popular in package design. Look for it the next time you are in the grocery store.


Complementary Colors

Yellow – Purple


Analogous Colors

Yellow – Orange

Analogous are when two or more colors next to each other are used. In this example we have a “warm color” effect from the yellow, yellow-orange, orange, and orange-red


Analogous Colors



Analogous Colors


This color scheme is an example of “cool colors.”


Analogous Colors


This is another example of a “cool” color scheme.

Value Scale

Tints, Shades, Tones

For any color there are many gradations achieved by mixing white, black, or gray.

Tints = color + white

Shades = color + black

Tones = color + gray.


One of my favorite websites for exploring different color palettes is I took several of the palettes and colored mandalas based on them.


This “magnolia hue” color palette from is a good example of an monochromatic color scheme using tints and shades of one color.


In the “flora brights” color scheme from we see a combination of soft colors as in the light pink, green, and yellow achieved by tinting these colors with white, arranged with contrasting intense colors like the darker pink and purple.


The “color pier” palette from is a gorgeous combination of blue and brown. Brown doesn’t appear on the color wheel because it is made by mixing complementary colors. Pull out your paints and try it. Red-Green = Brown, Yellow-Purple = Brown, Blue-Orange = Brown.


Heidi Nordtoft from Denmark posted in a Gelli Enthusiast group on Facebook this perfect message for today’s post:

Be the most brilliant color in the box.

The best way to get familiar with color is to pull out your paints and start mixing them together. You can also create colors using markers or colored pencils. Whether you mix your own colors or use them straight from a box, have fun!


There’s so much more to learn about color…

Let’s take your coloring to the next level.

In the Color Workshop, you’ll…

  • Learn new coloring techniques to create gorgeous mandalas.
  • Save time and money as you see the differences between the brands and types of coloring supplies most used to color mandalas. (Be sure to take this course before you buy any new art supplies.)
  • Energize your mandala practice with great color combinations.
  • Get the most out of the coloring supplies that you already have!



  1. Maria says

    I have been pinning paint combinations like yours from on pinterest for some time now! I wanted them for inspiration! I am going to explore the site and start playing with the color in my mandalas! Great idea!


  2. Peggy says

    Love the way you presented this, although I’m very familiar with the color wheel …. feel you gave a better grasp. Thank you!


  3. Eliana Tomlin says

    Wow. I am new to coloring Mandalas, this is the best article yet


  4. Barbara Bolton says

    It’s starting to come to light on how to use colors together. Thank you for your explanation, it’s pretty simple. When you use seeds and to choose the color pencil to look like the pallet, do you try to just get as close to the color as you can?


  5. Omg I have been struggling with what colors to use. This will be the answers to my prayer’s. Have seen color wheels before but still never knew how to put it all together to make my pictures pop. Oh can’t Thank you enough for writing this out so if finally makes sense. I am going to write it all out because don’t have a printer. Keep it close by till I get it in my head enough to do it without thinking if it. I have ruinef so many mandalas because didn’t do them right. Wowzie can’t believe it took this long for me finally to get it and wouldn’t have got it without your help. 😃


    • This post is just a sampling of what you’ll learn in my new color workshop this spring. There will be 10 lessons. The first 5 are all focused on coloring techniques (how to use markers, colored pencils, inktense pencils, watercolor pencils, papers, etc.) the second week builds on what you learned in this post which is all about picking colors for color harmony. This workshop is available to members of the Sharing Circle. I’ll announce when the workshop is release in May in my newsletter. Are you subscribed?

      Have fun coloring your mandalas.


  6. Natalie says

    this does make a lot of sense. I wonder though, how do you know many colors to use when you color a mandala? I have seen 6 pointed and 8 point mandalas and sometimes the lines of demarcation are not so obvious,meaning I have sometimes wondered whether a color goes in a spot or another color goes there instead. Mandalas can be complicated.


    • I usually pick a palette to work from and then I look at various larger sections and then work down to smaller details. I cover this concept in my online color workshop. It is part of the second week in the series.


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