Split Complementary Color Wheel

Split complementary color wheel with light blue color plus complimenting orange and red.

Yellow Couch with Split Complementary Purple & Red

This yellow couch has two split complimenting decor colors – red and purple.

Sitting Room with Pink Floor & Green Walls

The split complementary colors are dark pink and light red to the lime green walls.

Orange & Brown Decor with Touch of Blue

The use of orange and brown are split compliments to the color opposite of blue.

Kid's Room with Pink, Blue & Yellow

This kid’s room design uses yellow with split complimenting baby blue and pink.

Green Accent with Split Orange & Red Walls

The green accent wall has two complimenting colors in this example – red and orange.

A split complementary paint scheme is basically a variation of the more commonly used complementary scheme. It involves choosing a main color and two other colors that are adjacent to the complementary color of the chosen hue on the color wheel. The result is a paint scheme that offers high contrast without the tension of a complementary scheme. Examples of split complementary include: (i) red and yellow-green/blue-green or (ii) purple and yellow-orange/yellow-green. There are a total of 12 split complementary paint schemes, so you can’t complain about lack of choices!

Tips for Utilizing Split Complementary Paint Colors

Although an analogous paint scheme provides a simple and almost fool proof palette, it gives you sophisticated results, so follow our tips to get the best outcome.

1. Ensure that one of the three colors remains dominant on your palette.

2. You can enjoy various intensities of the ‘mother color’ by adding in different amounts of its split complementary colors.

3. If you wish to lighten a color, simply add white, tone it down with gray, and add black to make it darker.

4. Be wary when mixing in pigment, as some can overpower quickly, so be sure to mix slowly and patiently!

Split Complementary Paint Scheme Pros & Cons

Pros: You could elect to choose blue/green as the mother color and immediately, it becomes apparent that you have a wide range of options. For instance, the simple act of adding a small bit of blue/green to all the pure hues will give you subtle versions of the color while you could also choose to add pure violet, blue, or green hues for subtle color changes.

Cons: It is a delicate balancing act and is easier to make a mess of things with this paint scheme than if you choose analogous or monochromatic schemes.

See also:

Complementary Paint Schemes
Double Contrast Paint Schemes
Monochromatic Paint Schemes
Analogous Paint Schemes
Triadic Paint Schemes