The Color Wheel

The color wheel is made up of three PRIMARY colors; red, yellow, and blue, plus three SECONDARY colors made by mixing primaries; red+yellow=orange, yellow+blue=green, blue+red=violet.  Mix a secondary with one of its primaries and you get a TERTIARY color, like red-violet or yellow-green.

To make a color softer, mix in a little of the color opposite it on the color wheel, which is called its COMPLIMENTARY color. For instance, to tone down a bright blue, add a little orange. Adding a lot of orange will give you a lovely mud color. In the same way, bright orange can be toned down with a little blue. Yellow and purple tone each other down, as do red and green.

You can also tone down a multi-color print by dyeing or color-washing the entire piece in a primary color that is common to all the print colors. For instance, a print with lime green, violet, magenta, and white would be very vivid. Dip it in blue dye, and you'd have softer green, blue-violet, purple, and blue.
  Complimentary colors often look very good together, especially in muted tones. Think of lavendar and pastel yellow for Easter, or the deep, muted tones of purple and gold for a regal effect, or all different tones of red and green for Christmas. Blue and orange is not my favorite combination. It's used for sports teams a lot, though.

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