Hue, Tone, Tint and Shade Explained (2022)

  • Color Theory

Hue, Tone, Tint and Shade Explained (1)

We often hear people say things like, 'What a beautiful blue hue.' or 'What shade of green do you like?' or 'Which tone do you prefer?' or 'That tint is too light.'

Have you ever wondered what exactly they mean by these color terms? Let me clarify the difference between them. Once you understand the difference, you'll never be unsure again. You'll also be able to describe or mix a color muchmore easily.


Hue vsColor

To begin, most people use the terms Hue and Color interchangeably. It's very common, even with artists and designers to assume the two mean the same thing.

Generally speaking they sort of do, but technically they don't.

The comment above sounds like one of those mind-bending riddles.In fact, the difference between them is actually very simple.

When you use color in any project, it's super helpful to talk or think about each one clearly. So let me explain the difference between Hue and Color in the easiestway possible.

  • COLOR is the general term we use to describe every hue, tint, tone or shade we see.White, Black and Gray are often referred to as a color.
  • A HUE refers to the dominant Color Family of the specific color we're looking at. White, Black and Grey are never referred to as a Hue.

Hue, Tone, Tint and Shade Explained (2)

(Video) Hue, Shade, Tint, and Tone.....What's The Difference? | Easy Art Tutorial

Hue refers to the origin of the color we see. Think of the Hue as one of the sixPrimary and Secondary colors.In other words, the underlying base color of the mixture you're looking at is either Yellow, Orange, Red, Violet, Blue or Green.

In the photo at the top of the page, you obviously know the Hues right away. But what about more complex colors we want to duplicate in our artwork or projects?

How to Talk Like a Color Pro​

What if a color is truly an in-between Tertiarysuch as a Yellow/Green where neither Yellow nor Green dominate? Obviously you could describe it as a Yellow/Green Hue and you wouldn't be wrong.

Before long you'll find it easy to identify the Hue more specifically.You'll begin todrill down and impress yourself, by describing the color something like this:
'The color has a Yellow Hue, leaning strongly toward Green.'
Indeed this clarifies that the mixture began with the Primary Yellow, and gradually added the Secondary color Green.

Neutrals also contain a Hue depending on their originating color. On the other hand, pure Black, pure White and Pure Grey do not contain a Hue.

Here area few examples of how you can lookat a color closely to decide which isthe Dominant Hue. One you've established this in your mind, it becomes much easier to recreate the color or mix it further.

  • Burgundy = RED
  • Pink = RED
  • Navy = BLUE
  • Rust = ORANGE
  • Cool Gray = It might be BLUE or even PURPLE or GREEN - Really look at it.
  • Warm Brown = It might be ORANGE but it mightbe RED or YELLOW - Really look at it.

Painting Tips for HUES

* When you want to mix a specific color, begin by observing it really closely. Try to see the Hue Family it originates from. To this end, you will have a clear beginning point to start mixing.

* When you buy paint in an art store, some of the colors will be labeled with the word HUE. Don't be fooled into thinking these are pure Primary or pure Secondary colors. It's a manufacturer misnomer. The 'HUE Colors' are mixed colors that imitate a pure Hue, but never mix well.

Defining and Describing a TINT

A Tint is sometimes also called a Pastel. But to be precise, Color Theory defines aTrue Tint as any Hue or mixture of pure colors withonly White added.

Hue, Tone, Tint and Shade Explained (3)

A Tint lightens the color, but it doesn't make it brighter. Even though the color may appear brighter,in actual fact it is not. In other words, it remains exactly the same color, onlya paler version. Furthermore, even a small amount of Whiteadded to a color, transforms it intoa Tint.

(Video) Understanding the difference between: Tint, Tone, Shade, Hue

Therefore a Tint can range fromslightly lighter than your original color, all the way to White with barely any of the color mixed in.

Hue, Tone, Tint and Shade Explained (4)

In addition, a true Tint contains no Gray.

To create a true Tint, simply add White toany individual coloron the Color Wheel or any of those pure colors mixed together.

Regardless of this Color Theory definition, artists oftenbend the rules somewhat. Instead of White to mix a Tint, they use other pale neutral pigments such as Titanium or Titan Buff. These pigment 'Whites' can produce beautiful complex Tints.

Painting Tips for TINTS

* To mix pale Tints, always begin with your White paint. From there, very gradually mix in the tiniest specks of your color until you achieve the Tint you want.

* Artists often add a tiny touch of White to a pure pigment. This help to accentuatethe mass tone of the color making it appear brighter.

* When you mix White with any color, be careful and mix extremely gradually. For example, Bright Red can very quickly turn into an ugly Pink you don't like.

(Video) Color Theory 101: What is a Tint, Tone, Hue & Shade?

What Exactly is a TONE?

Color Theory defines a True Tone as any Hue or mixture of pure colors with only Gray added. To be precise, this definition considers Gray as truly neutral. In other words, there are no additional pigments in the Gray other than White plus Black.

Hue, Tone, Tint and Shade Explained (5)

A neutral mixture of Gray, no matter how light or dark, will tone down the intensity of any color. As a general warning, be careful with how muchGray you mix in. Too much Gray dulls the color so much, it becomes impossible to get the brilliance back.

Toned colors are generally considered more pleasing to the eye. They are complex, subtle andsophisticated. That's because bright pure colors are most often associated with children.

Generally speaking, almost every color we see in our day-to-day world has been toned to some degree.In the photo below, look at the colors themselves without thinking of them as wool. Almost every bundle is a slightly Toned version of the original pure colors. Notice hownearly every variation appears to contain a littleGray, that is either a light or dark Value.

Hue, Tone, Tint and Shade Explained (6)

Painting Tips for TONES

* There's an easy way to mix both light and dark Tones quickly while painting. Specifically, pre-mixLight, Medium and Dark Neutral Grays from White plus Black. Store them in small foodcontainers to have them on hand all the time.

* Artist always love to bend the rules. An experienced painter might make a Gray usingPaynes Gray plus Titan Buff. It's true this will produce a gorgeous Gray. But be extremely careful.Mixtures like this contain Neutral Base Hues such as Blue or Orange.Therefore, when mixed with other paints, colors can get muddy very quickly.

* It's always a great idea to experiment with the color mixtures before you paint.This helps you understand the potential of each color while avoiding unintended muddy colors in your artwork.

What is the definition of a SHADE?

Color Theory defines a True Shade​ as any pure Hue or mixture of pure colors with only Black added. In other words, it contains absolutely no White or Gray.

(Video) Color Theory 3 - ​Hue - Saturation - Value - Tint - Tone - Shade - English Tutorial

Hue, Tone, Tint and Shade Explained (7)

A Shade darkens the color. It remains the same Hue only a darker version. As has been noted above, even a small amount of White or Gray added to a color, transforms it into a Tone.

Therefore a Shade can range from slightly darker than your original color, all the way to nearly Blackwith barely any of the color mixed in.

As you can see below, the colors intheumbrella have been shaded by the lack of sunlight. However, if you wanted to paint this, you would add a tiny touch of black to each color.

Hue, Tone, Tint and Shade Explained (8)

Painting Tips for SHADES

* When you mix a Shade, begin with the color itself. Then add your Black a tiny speck at a time. A little goes a long way!

* Again, many artist like to bend the rules. Many experienced painters do not use Black at all. Instead they create Shade mixtures with Neutral Dark pigments such as Paynes Gray or even Burnt Sienna. These mixtures are gorgeous and complex. However, unless you've pre-testedyour paint mixtures, colors can get muddy very quickly.

Let's Review What You Learned

  • In painting, the word COLORis the general term for everything we see. However, the word HUE refers to the brightest 6 - 12 pure, unmixed pigment families on the Color Wheel.
  • In Color Theory a TINTany Hue with White added. The color remains the same only lighter.
  • In Color Theory, a TONE isany pure Hue with Neutral Gray added. The color remains the same only less vibrant.The Values can range from very light to very dark.
  • In Color Theory, a SHADE is any pure Hue with Black added. The color remains the same only darker.
(Video) Painting Hue, Tint, Tone and Shade

Nature’s gemstones come in a miraculous menagerie of different shades. But when we talk about the ‘color’ of a gemstone, what are we referring to?

Usually, the word color refers to which part of the spectrum our eyes interpret when we see an object, such as red, blue, green etc.. The world we live in is full of light, which can be broadly broken down into seven different wavelengths, with each wavelength relating to one of the seven colors seen in a rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.. Without the addition of either black or white, the artist can create most hues by mixing the three primary colors of red, yellow and blue in differing quantities.. For example, Zambian Amethyst might match the bluish-violet hue, but how are lighter Rose de France Amethyst stones and darker Moroccan Amethyst stones accounted for?. That’s where tone and saturation come into the mix.. With another 10% more tone or so, it becomes a lovely Amethyst.. The reason brown and pink aren’t officially included as hues on the GIA list is that orange and yellow hues with high tone would create brown hues, and red and purple hues with light tone would create pink tones.. This, in gemstones at least, is what we call ‘color’.. The less vivid the saturation, the more of the mask you will see.. Sometimes the saturation is even more important than the hue itself.. For example, a violetish blue Sapphire with a vivid saturation would most likely cost more than a pure blue Sapphire which had a greyish mask.

Color is a general term that describes hues, shades, tints, and tones. Many use these terms interchangeably, even though each of them has a distinct meaning. When you understand the difference between…

Hue is the beginning color of all colors.. It is the base color of every color you see.. You cannot make primary colors by mixing other colors together (at least not using the same color model), as every color starts from one of these three.. You create tertiary colors when you mix one primary color with a secondary color.. As you can see, both color models or color wheels are divided into 12 basic hues: three primary colors, three secondary colors, and six tertiary colors.. You can also consider adding a darker hue of the same color to shade your existing color.. While you can create wonderful color palettes by using different base colors, you can get more pop by using tones, shades, and tints in the same palette of base colors.. Analogous uses one main color and two other colors next to it on the color wheel.. It is a three-color scheme, but you can expand it to a five-color scheme by adding two more colors close to the second and third on the color wheel.. Complementary is when you use two colors that are across each other on the color wheel.. It works best when using primarily one color in the design and then applying the second color as an accent color .. Split-Complementary is when you select one primary color and two secondary colors adjacent to its complement on the color wheel.. You can tone down the effect by using one color as the dominant one and the other two as secondary colors.. Square color schemes use four colors that are the same distance away from each other, and these colors create a square shape on the color wheel.

Understanding the color characteristics of hue value chroma allows you to select precisely the right color schemes.

Black, white, and gray are not hues.. The lighter and darker areas of the circle in the middle give it dimension, and you see it as a sphere.. One way to change the lightness or darkness of a pure hue is to add black, white, or gray to the color.. In theory, adding white, black, or gray to a hue does not change the color; it only adjusts the value (lightness or darkness).. All of the squared in the three rows except for pure black, white, and middle gray are red.. If two colors have the same hue and value yet appear to be different, what it is about the color that changed?. Mixing a pure hue with black, white, gray, or any other color reduces its purity and lowers its chroma.. They also become lower in chroma.. All of the other colors you see in the grid have a lower chroma than the squares of pure red and pure green.. When you mix white, black, gray, or any color into a hue, you reduce its chroma.. When you mix white or black with a hue, you change its value making it lighter or darker.. Mix any pure colors with any other hue, and it lowers the chroma of the color.. Value is the lightness or darkness of a color and defines a color in terms of how close it is to white or black.. Mixing a pure hue with black, white, gray, or any other color reduces its chroma and lowers the strength of the original hue.. The lower the chroma, the less pure the color.

If you're wondering what hue, value and chroma means and how you work with these three aspects of color, this post will answer all your questions. But first, we need to take a look at why color is so…

In much the same way that musicians work with music theory in order to create unique sounds, interior designers work with color theory to create the right look.. It centers around the color wheel and how certain colors can be combined in order to create something new.. This in turn gives them the opportunity to create an almost endless combination of colors based off the same original color.. They often refer to these colors as primary, secondary and tertiary colors.. In color theory, there are certain aspects of a color that can be defined.. The definition of hue can be a bit confusing, even for people who work with color.. When you’re looking at virtually any other object, the hue is the main color that creates the base for whatever you’re seeing.. It refers to the particular shade of a color and how dark or how light that particular color is .. In color theory, the lightest colors are considered to have the highest value.. This provides a benchmark for people who work with colors so they can refer back to a particular choice for any given base color.. Tone simply refers to whether or not a particular color is duller than the base color one started with.. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about changing the color of the paint on your walls by mixing black, white or gray with a base color or if you’re looking at something like a digital photograph which can be altered in order to create a different atmosphere within the photo itself.. You might think that the only people that really need to work with these three aspects of color are people who routinely use color in their professional lives.. A person who doesn’t have any scientific understanding of these aspects of color can still create different things based on changing these qualities.


1. Color Theory 201: Hues, Values, Tints, Tones & Shades
(Jerry's Artarama Art Supplies - Online)
2. Color Course Part 6: Tint, Tone, and Shade
3. Colour Theory for Websites - Hue, Tint, Shade and Tone
(Leon Marsden)
4. Value (Modifying Colours with Tints, Tones, Shades) - How To Paint #2 - MV27
5. Colour Theory - Hue, Tints, SHades and Tones
(Fashion Studies)
6. Hue,Tint,Tones, The Color Wheel Acrylic Painting

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