The combination of hue elements through mixing paints of different colors allows the creation of a variety of colors. Use of a color wheel, which shows primary, secondary and tertiary colors, explains the colors a painter can create and serves as a way to identify color relationships, schemes and structures.
Primary colors include blue, red and yellow, which serve as the basis of all other colors and hues. Primary colors cannot be made by mixing other colors together, and paint manufacturers must create pigments by using a pure source of the hue elements.
Secondary colors include orange, violet (or purple) and green. They are created by mixing any two of the primary colors together. For example, mixing red and yellow creates orange, blending blue and yellow produces green, and a combination of red and blue results in violet.
Tertiary colors are the next level of mixtures and arise from mixing a primary color with its closest secondary color on the color wheel. Six possible tertiary combinations exist, including yellow-orange, red-orange, blue-violet and yellow-green.
The total of three primary colors, three secondary colors and six tertiary colors make 12 total colors that can then be mixed to produce a wide variety of colors. Black and white come from colors mixed to produce lighter and darker shades and tints.