Since James Gurney has already covered this subject in great detail, rather than cover the basics again, I'll just add a few thoughts to the discussion.
The advantage to a traditional triadic color scheme is that its even nature comes across in images using it. It's not an exciting color combination, but the even and predictable nature of it makes it comfortable, almost friendly.
This may not be a surprising discovery to some, but I've noticed that the farther you push a color scheme away from peak saturation and value, the more you lose the strengths of that color scheme. However, the colors still retain a shadow of what they used to be, so even at its extremes a color scheme has a hint of the message that goes along with it.
While a triadic color scheme can feel balanced, safe, and even child-like, which triad you pick for your subject matter can still strongly affect the mood of your image. Look at the difference that happens by shifting just a little in one direction:
Don't expect too much from a color scheme, though, because the color scheme is often one of the weakest factors in communicating the emotional tone of an image. If I were to assign a priority to the effectiveness of a design element in establishing the theme, emotion, or message of an image, I'd place the priorities something like this:
2. Subject matter/content (I would include shape language here)
3. Lighting scheme
4. Value/color composition
6. Color scheme
These all might switch places depending on the image, but the point is, don't count on a color scheme to solve your problems if your drawing, lighting, etc. aren't saying what they're supposed to.
|If anything, the primary colors make him seem even more freaky|