Good morning! Welcome to this month’s color installment. Thank you to the forum members for suggesting so many great topics for this new ambassador series. I can’t wait to get to them all! This month, I decided to continue the color wheel conversation with a look at complementary color pairs. Complementary color pairs consist of a primary color and the secondary color opposite it on the color wheel and when placed next to each other, they create the strongest contrast for those particular two colors.

When using the traditional red-yellow-blue color wheel, these pairings are red and green, yellow and purple, and orange and blue. Because of the striking contrast, these color duos are perfect for adding a bit of pop and pizazz to a project. I’ve used this color theory in a couple of ways. Last month, for example, when creating the colorful color wheel based card featuring purple as my focal color on the cross, I placed the taller yellow flowers right next to it and chose yellow as my card base and frame purposefully for that extra contrast and pop.

This month, I wanted to focus on the duos themselves, so I stamped a few clean and crisp cards, one with each complementary color pairing to show it off. On all three designs, I pulled in an extra shade of one of the colors and on a couple, I added a neutral as needed. (Please note: although I used paper and copic markers in a couple of instances, I’m using ink cubes to represent those colors for consistency and ease of presenting them to you.)

First up, red and green. We know and love this color duo as Christmas colors, but they don’t have to be just for Christmas. Think flowers and strawberries – perfect examples of red and green in the wild! And boy, do red flowers and strawberries pop in a field of green!

When I use red and green outside of Christmas, I often opt for a lighter green and add in pinks. For that matter, pink and green have the same complementary pop qualities. Here I chose Limeade Ice and Pure Poppy and added a bit of Sweet Blush. The result is bright and springy and the little bit of red and pink really shine on the green background.

Next, yellow and purple. This is probably the complementary duo I use alone the least. Although as I pointed out, I placed them near each other on a more colorful card specifically for that complementary pop. I think I see football colors too easily for it to be a favorite pairing – I live in LSU country!! When you think about it, many football team colors employ this color theory – most likely to make the players stand out on the field.

That said, I really love how this card turned out. Clean and simple cards are so satisfying to me and these color duos really add to the crispness of the design. The contrast and pop can really assist in the less is more idea of clean and simple. I originally tried stamping the butterfly in yellow and coloring it in with a lighter yellow copic, but ultimately I liked to see the lines more, so I went with smokey shadow as a neutral. To blend it in with the yellow a bit, I colored over the body as well as the wings. A few little flower sequins and that purple sentiment really pops!

And last, but not least, blue and orange. This one’s probably my favorite of the color duos. I know there are football teams with this color combo, just like yellow and purple, but for some reason, it just doesn’t read football all the way to me. Anyway, I really liked Stephanie’s Make it Monday this week and decided to try my own twist on her idea.

Rather than using similar images for my solids and outlines like Stephanie, I chose a playful pairing of images – ink pens and flowers! I had tried to come up with an idea for a background of black line pens during the release but never could finish it up. Enter this random, offset scattering of flowers and I love it! Like Stephanie, I left a little space for the sentiment, but the constrasty background “pattern” of solid flowers and line art pens is the star of the show. Fun fact that I came across: life preservers are often orange specifically for the contrast with blue water so that they’re easy to spot.

In addition to the cards, I thought it would be fun to share a small sampling of possible papertrey ink colors that would “complement” each other well. If red and green is just too Christmasy, pink and green pop just as nicely!

Papertrey Ink has some great purples and yellows to choose from as well. Rather than working with both strong colors from the middle, try using lighter shades of one color with a dark shade of the other. Those lighter shades will still support the complementary color nicely and the whole project will pop.

And finally, blue and orange. So many great choices here! And actually, teals can easily be read as blue or green depending on what you put them next to, which allows them to play perfectly with both oranges and reds or pinks!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at stamping with complementary colors. Other than Christmas, do you already stamp with these color combos? Which pairing is your favorite? As always, I love to read your comments and requests! Until next month…

Happy stamping!
🙂 lexi


Thinking of  You Greens Card
STAMPS: Butterfly Blooms
INK: Pure Poppy
PAPER: Stamper’s Select White, Limeade Ice, Sweet Blush
DIES: Shape Shifters: Oval 1, Double-Ended Banners

You’re Amazing Butterfly Card
STAMPS: A Bit More: Butterfly Blooms, Penned Elegance
INK: Amethyst Allure, Smokey Shadow
PAPER: Stamper’s Select White
OTHER: Flower Sequins, Copics: Y08, Y21, Foam Tape

Thank You Pens Card
STAMPS: Ink It In, Flower Power
INK: Orange Zest, Blueberry Sky, Spring Rain, True Black
PAPER: Stamper’s Select White
OTHER: Foam Tape

Lexi Daly

Author Lexi Daly

a crafter since crayons, a computer nerd since the early apple, a hostess with the mostest, a maker of stamps and cards. graphic designer, teacher, mom of two girls.

More posts by Lexi Daly

Join the discussion 18 Comments

  • 1
    Dawn Y. says:

    Oh, Lexi! This is a wonderful lesson on color theory! Your cards are just beautiful. Pairing the ink cubes was the perfect way to illustrate the use of complementary colors! Now I will be more intentional as I choose ink colors and paper colors, too. It’s funny! I have always been very intentional about pairing complementary colors as I add perennials to my garden beds. Moving plants around in my garden often feels like watercoloring with real flowers! So, the idea of intentionally using complementary colors on my cards is very exciting to me! You are a wonderful teacher. Heartfelt thanks, Lexi! 💗

  • 2
    Marcia Hill says:

    Great post and lesson on complimentary colors Lexi…loved it! Had to laugh about the purple and yellows reminding you of football teams, although I do love using those 2 colors together. My favorites though are the reds and greens…probably because of Christmas! I love the idea of mixing the pink in though…will definitely remember that! Thanks for the great lesson and for sharing your beautiful cards…great way to start my Saturday!! :0)

  • 3
    Donna Oates says:

    Thank you for sharing these color theory tips. Lovely cards and great ideas!

  • 4
    Brenda J says:

    Thanks Lexi, I too enjoyed your article. I can always you some help with going beyond the traditional color combinations. Very helpful! I personally really like this type of article.

  • 5
    kellyv says:

    love your cards Lexi, especially the pens and flowers! i am more and more certain that i am going to love your colour feature each month! thank you!

  • 6
    Stephanie Clapper says:

    Hi Lexi! Your post is one I’ll read and re-read. Thank you for your help when using the color wheel. I’ve never taken any art classes and when I bought my color wheels ages ago, I sat and stared at them for the longest time. I tried to understand the use of different color combinations, but in the end, put them away. Your post is VERY helpful because it helps with the basics of color choice, before starting a design. If you get a chance, could you help explain split complements? Thank you Lexi, for all your help and beautiful examples.

  • 7
    Greta H says:

    Thank you for a very informative, helpful post, Lexi! I love all your examples which really help me understand what you’re saying. The butterfly card is my favorite! I’ve wanted to use a contrasting color for a sentiment, but have thought I needed that color somewhere else on the card as well. Now I see I could have done it! You’re also helping me with orange–my least favorite color–except for pumpkins, of course–haha! Knowing to try using a lighter shade of one will also help. I tend to want to use green & red, but end up not doing it because I’m afraid it looks like Christmas. Now I have some ideas to try! Also love your take on the MIM technique which I also loved. I thought about non matching shapes & you’ve shown how great that works! Using the ink cubes for the combos is a great visual for me! Enjoy your weekend!

  • 8
    Kathy Mc says:

    Lexi, this is such an impressive post and will keep this handy at all times. Art is not my forte so seeing these visuals is so beneficial. Lots of stampers combine colors that I wouldn’t but when used, they are beautiful together. Pure Poppy with greens tends to express Christmas decor, but yet love PP with Aqua Mist. My favorite combo is yellow and purple (used to have those colors in my guest bath for years). Thanks for sharing all these examples, and your cards are fabulous!

  • 9
    Kelly G says:

    You’re a CAS genius, Lexi. I like the “floating” pens best.

  • 10
    Catherine Milne says:

    This lesson on color theory was another great one. Lexi, you have such a clear way of expressing what your process is. This is a wonderful monthly addition that applies to all sorts of paper crafting. Love. This. Feature.

  • 11
    Stephanie says:

    Thank you, Lexi, this was really helpful. Your explanations are thorough but uncluttered, makng them so easy to understand and internalize.

  • 12
    Barbara M says:

    Great post! Going have to bookmark this one. Very helpful!

  • 13
    Elizabeth McGregor says:

    This is great Lexi; thank you! I am always trying to figure out what colors to pull together! This is a really helpful (and beautiful) post!

  • 14
    Helen F. says:

    Great post, Lexi! Love learning which colors to add to compliment the color wheel basics. Thanks for sharing your creativity and beautiful cards 🙂

  • 15
    Jennifer McAllister says:

    Thank you Lexi for that fun presentation. I have enjoyed learning more about color and color choices with you. It was a great idea to lay out the different choices with each complimentary color pair. Being from MN I can relate to what you said about purple and yellow. Especially if using a bright shade rather than pastel. My favorite combo is the red and green. Most of my cards are floral and I seem to want to make them all pink flowers with green foliage.

  • 16
    Maribeth says:

    Wonderful post on color theory, Lexi. Thank you. My favorite card is the butterfly.

  • 17
    Merryf says:

    Lexi, this is such a fabulous lesson on color theory! I learn best with examples and I’m so happy to see all your cards. I do have to admit that blue and orange make me think of the Mets — up here in NYC it’s baseball season! ThNjs for this wonderful inspiration!

  • 18
    Lori says:

    Hi Lexi, I am loving your series on COLOR and appreciate the way to explain it!!! There are a lot of us who struggle with color selection and this helps me think about selecting colors with a different approach. I hope you continue to keep us enlightened!!!

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