The right colour combination plays a huge part in your cake designing process. We often overlook this area, but I highly recommend you invest some time here – I promise you will reap the rewards.
Inspiration for colour combinations is everywhere – look for pretty dresses, floral homeware, wallpapers, greetings cards. It's all about finding colour combinations that appeal to you and reinventing them as cake designs.
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Colour combinations that work
Understanding the basic colour wheel will help you decide the best colour combinations for your cake. In a colour wheel, you'll see primary, secondary and tertiary colours, as follows.
The basic colour wheel
- Red, yellow and blue are the primary colours.
These are the colours achieved by mixing equal amounts of two primary colours:
- Orange = red + yellow
- Purple = red + blue
- Green = yellow + blue
These are the colours that fall between, and are mixed from, the primary and secondary colours:
Complementary colours sit opposite each other in the colour wheel – for example, red and green, and yellow and purple. If you're looking for bold cake designs, choose complementary colours as they'll create contrast and have a striking effect on your design.
These are the colours that are right next to each other on the colour wheel – for example, yellow, yellow-orange and orange. When these colours are used together, they give a harmonious look to your design.
Compound colours comprise two adjacent colours in the colour wheel and one colour opposite on the colour wheel – for example, red–orange, red and green. Compound colours are very much like complementary colours in that they create a striking contrast, but having two adjacent colours from the colour wheel creates a smoother transition.
Triad and tetrad colours
If you'd like a colourful cake, perhaps a triad or tetrad colour combination is the best way forward. Triad colours are evenly spaced on the colour wheel in the form of a triangle – for example, yellow, blue and red, or purple, orange and green.
Tetrad colours are evenly spaced on the colour wheel in the form of a square – for example, yellow, purple, blue–green and red–orange.
When you mix two or more gel colours, a little magic happens to transform the colour dramatically so you can achieve the perfect red, burgundy or even black! Below are some of my favourite colour combinations:
- Black – chocolate buttercream + black gel colour
- White – uncoloured buttercream + white gel colour
- Brown – chocolate buttercream
- Red – mostly red + a little orange + a little dot of black
- Avocado – green + yellow + a dot of ivory
- Burgundy – pink + a little purple
- Plum – violet + a little red
- Navy blue – blue + a little violet
- Raspberry – pink + a little red
A dot of ivory will help to decrease the brightness of any colour and a dot of black will help darken the colour. I tend to use a neutral colour like cream or white with my complementary colours to tone down the contrast a little.