Food Colours and Colour Wheel

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The colour wheel is useful tool when using food colours and colouring icing or fondant. Colour wheel is also perfect when creating custom food colours. If a shade is not quite right, use the wheel to help determine what colour needs to be added. Understanding the colours wheel will also help in deciding which colours complement each other when choosing colours on your cake.

Primary Food Colours

Primary food colours are red, yellow and blue. Primary colours cannot be made by mixing the colours and all the other colours are made up from these three colours.

Secondary Food Colours

Range, purple and green are the secondary colours. They are achieved by mixing two of the primary food colours. Example red and yellow make orange.

Opposites on the Colour Wheel

Opposite colours are opposite one another on the colour wheel. Opposite colours will create the maximum contrast and are complementary to one another. The opposite colour to any primary colour is made by taking the other two primary colours and mixing them together. The result is the primary’s complementary, or opposite, colour. Opposites are very helpful when mixing exact shades of food colours. For example if brown icing looks too green, add a bit of the opposite food colour, which would be red.

Analogous Food Colours

Analogous colours are next to each other on the colours wheel. These colours are in harmony with one another.

Tertiary Food Colours

Tertiary colours are subtle colour combinations of mixing the primary and secondary colour next to one another. For example teal is achieved by mixing blue and green.


Black and white are not considered true colours on the colour wheel. Black food colour can be made by mixing red, yellow, and blue food colours. Mixing black is difficult and requires large amount of food colour, so it is usually best to buy black food colouring instead of making it yourself.