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Color Wheel Radial Name Design

Hi There All!  This is Brittaini Pulver your Natural Kids resident art teacher!  I am very please to be able to bring you lots of lessons for exploring the wonderful world of art!

The Color Wheel:  We all know how important exploring colors can be for children of any age.  Here we explore how to create them, integrate some math concepts and create a beautiful radial design using your child’s name.

Age Level: Grades 4-12 although you can modify for any age


Piece of chipboard or strong card stock for creating a template 2 x 6

black Marker, pencil and eraser, scissors

protractor and ruler

18 x 24 paper

Red, Yellow and Blue Paint (tempera or acrylic work best but you could use watercolor too), small brushes, water


1.  On the 2 x 6 piece of card stock write the name in cursive as large and wide as possible.  Ignore dots for “I”s for now.  When you like what you have, use a marker to go over the name a few times, going wider and wider without going off the paper creating a thick broad line for your name.  See figure 1. and 2.  You may want to change or adapt the shape of the name as you do this.  Cut out your name.  Cut the outer edge only, ignore the insides of letters like “a” and the “o”.  Be very careful to cut accurately as you are now using this as your template.  I tell my students to use the lower part of the scissors to gain more control over the cuts.

2.  On your paper, take your ruler and find the cross hairs of the center of the paper in very light pencil.  see figure 3.  Using the protractor, match the center line with the center you just made on your paper.  Using the pencil, make marks at the 0, 30, 60,90, 120, 150 and 180.  Flip over and make marks at the 30, 60, 90, 120 and 150 degree.  This should give you 12 equally spaced dots.  Alternately, if you do not have a protractor you can eye ball it with pencil 12 equally spaced dots like a clock.

3.  Using your pencil and the template of your name, choose a dot on one of the sides.  Fit it so that the edge of the first letter of your name is close to the edge without going off the paper.  Make a mark where the dot lines up with your template.  This is important to do if you want your design to look even and radial.  Trace your name.  Now move around the circle rotating your name slightly each time; keep tracing until you have all 12 done.  BE sure to line up the dot on your name in the same place every time.  Now with your pencil draw all the insides of the letters like the “o” and the “a”.  Now you can choose to draw a tail towards the center like finished example 3 if you like.

4.  Pour out red, yellow and blue paint.  Keep some scrap paper handy for mixing.  refer to this link for color wheel.  It is important the sequence is correct.  Paint the primary colors first; red, blue and yellow in the correct spots.  Using equal parts of yellow and blue mix green and paint it in; equal parts blue and red for violet (purple);  equal parts yellow and red for orange.  These are the secondary colors.  Equal parts of 2 primary colors make the secondary colors.  The intermediate or tertiary colors are created by mixing 1 primary and 1 secondary color together.   Or if you want to explore ratios as a math extension you could do it this way; notice how the primary color is always listed first for the intermediate colors and therefore have the majority of the ratio:

Orange: 2 parts yellow, 2 parts red

Violet: 2 parts blue, 2 parts red

Green: 2 parts blue, 2 parts yellow

Yellow Orange: 3 parts yellow, 1 part red      Yellow Green: 3 parts yellow, 1 part blue

Red Violet: 3 parts red, 1 part blue          Red Orange: 3 parts red, 1 part yellow

Blue Green: 3 parts blue, 1 part yellow          Blue Violet: 3 parts blue, 1 part red

5.  Painting tips:  It is important that you mix a little more color than you think you need for a spot.  Otherwise, it will take some time to get the exact color you had before.  Load up your brush with paint and try to use the smallest brush possible.  Start at just the inside of the line in the space you are working on; that way when you put pressure on the brush the paint will be forced towards the edges leaving you a nice clean edge.  When creating your name, the thicker the better…smaller is NOT easier in this case especially if you do not have the most careful painter.  For smaller children, i highly recommend tracing the names on another sheet of paper so the child doesn’t have to worry about edges; they can even finger paint inside the names.  Cut out the names when dry and paste them to a background paper.  Younger kids will frustrate easily because they are still fine tuning their fine motor skills.  When you are finished and paint has dried, you may want to take a sharpie or heavy black marker and outline your work.  This is just an aesthetic choice.  Above all, have fun and modify as you see fit.  The most important concept about this project is understanding how colors relate and how they are made.

Brittaini Pulver is the mother of Santiago 7 and Adelina 1.  She is currently in her 9th year of teaching high school art for Columbus City Schools in Columbus, Ohio.  She owns Long Mountain Art, an organic clothing line for babies and children.

2 thoughts on “Color Wheel Radial Name Design

  1. What a great way to teach colors. Thanks for sharing this, Brittaini!

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