A color wheel is a circular arrangement of colors. The color wheel follows the approach of Johannes Itten and consists of three orders of colors.
- The first order encompasses the so-called primary colors – yellow, red, and blue – that all other colors can be mixed from.
- The second order is made up of the secondary colors. For example, those that are mixed from the primaries and include orange, purple, and green.
- The third order, the tertiary colors, are those that are mixed from one primary and one secondary color. They include yellow-orange, red-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green, and yellow-green.
Together with his color theory, Itten developed a group of seven color contrasts based on the colors of his color wheel. They describe varying subjective effects that different color contrasts and combinations have on the viewer. A systematical analysis of an excerpt regarding its color contrasts can be very useful for an artistic analysis of the color composition.
The color contrasts that are particularly relevant for film analysis consist of the following:
- Contrast of pure hue
- Complementary contrast
- Light-dark contrast
- Cool-warm contrast
- Contrast of saturation