- Color Theory
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.
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 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.
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.
Therefore a Tint can range fromslightly lighter than your original color, all the way to White with barely any of the color mixed in.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What is the right explanation for tint shade and tone? ›
In color theory, a tint is a mixture of a color with white, which increases lightness, while a shade is a mixture with black, which increases darkness. Both processes affect the resulting color mixture's relative saturation. A tone is produced either by mixing a color with gray, or by both tinting and shading.What's the difference between hue and shade? ›
In Color Theory, a TONE is any 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.What is an example that shows the relationship between hue and tint? ›
The colour lilac can be referenced as a tint if only white is added to the hue violet/purple to achieve it. A shade is simply a hue that has had black added to it. The colour aubergine can be called a shade of violet/purple if black is added to the hue violet/purple to achieve it.What is a hue in color? ›
Hue literally means colour. When it is used in a colour name, it indicates that a modern pigment has been used instead of the traditional one. For example, Cadmium Red Pale Hue is a “colour of cadmium red pale”.What are some examples of tints and shades? ›
Tints are light values that are made by mixing a color with white. For example, pink is a tint of red, and light blue is a tint of blue. Shades are dark values that are made by mixing a color with black. Maroon is a shade of red, and navy is a shade of blue.How do you determine hue color? ›
Hue is determined by the dominant wavelength of the visible spectrum. It is the attribute that permits colors to be classified as red, yellow, green, blue, or an intermediate color. Saturation pertains the amount of white light mixed with a hue.What does hue mean in oil paints? ›
Hue literally means colour. When it is used in a colour name, it indicates that a modern pigment has been used instead of the traditional one. For example, Cadmium Red Pale Hue is a “colour of cadmium red pale”.What element of art do tint and tone relate to? ›
Tints are created when white is added to any hue on the color wheel. This process lightens and desaturates the hue. Tones: Tones are created when grey is added to a color. The final tone depends on the amount of black and white used, and tones may be lighter or darker than the original hue.How do you describe tint? ›
Tint refers to any hue or mixture of pure colors to which white is added. Pastel colors are generally tinted colors. Tinted color remains the same color, but it is paler than the original.How do tint and shades differ? ›
A tint is where an artist adds a colour to white to create a lighter version of the colour. An example of a tint is pink. Pink is a tint created by adding white to red. A shade is where an artist adds black to a colour to darken it down.
Is white a tint or a shade? ›
The terms 'shade', 'tint', and 'tone' should be not be used in terms of color theory, as these terms lack clarity. So if anything, white would more likely be considered a tint than a shade, especially if you consider white to be the very lightest tint of grey. From a pigment perspective.....How do you describe the tone of a color? ›
In general, a good rule of thumb is to start by using the same adjectives that can describe colors. For example, a violin might be described as sounding 'bright' or 'brilliant,' while a cello may sound 'mellow,' 'warm,' or 'muted. 'How do you describe the tone of a painting? ›
In painting, tone refers to the relative lightness or darkness of a colour (see also chiaroscuro). One colour can have an almost infinite number of different tones. Tone can also mean the colour itself.Is white a hue or color? ›
Some consider white to be a color, because white light comprises all hues on the visible light spectrum. And many do consider black to be a color, because you combine other pigments to create it on paper. But in a technical sense, black and white are not colors, they're shades. They augment colors.What is hue and example? ›
Green, orange, yellow, and blue — each of these is a hue, a color or a shade that's true. A rainbow shows the melting of one hue into another, from red to violet, and all shades in between. The noun hue means both a color and a shade of a color. Green is a hue, and turquoise is a hue of both green and blue.How many hues are there? ›
It has been determined by people who determine such things that there are somewhere around 18 decillion varieties of colors available for your viewing enjoyment. That's an 18 followed by 33 zeros.What is hue simple? ›
It is defined as “the degree to which a stimulus is similar to, or different from, stimuli that are red, green, blue, and yellow” (the unique hues). The other main aspects of color appearance are colorfulness, chroma, saturation, lightness, and brightness.What is tint made of? ›
Aftermarket window tint is a product applied to the window made from multiple layers of polyester film. This multilayer construction includes an adhesive coating, layers containing metal particles, dyes and pigments, and a final layer that provides scratch resistance.Which colour is tint of red? ›
A light color is a tint. For example, pink is a tint of red. A dark color is called a shade.What is shade value? ›
You can find the values of a color by making its tints and shades. Tints are light values that are made by mixing a color with white. For example, pink is a tint of red, and light blue is a tint of blue. Shades are dark values that are made by mixing a color with black.
What is the difference between tint and tone what element of art do they relate to? ›
Tints are created when white is added to any hue on the color wheel. This process lightens and desaturates the hue. Tones: Tones are created when grey is added to a color. The final tone depends on the amount of black and white used, and tones may be lighter or darker than the original hue.What does tint mean in interior design? ›
Tints are created by adding white to any hue, according to color theory. This lightens and desaturates the hue, creating a subtler and lighter color than the original hue. In other words, it creates a lighter version, or paler version if you will, of any hue.What does it mean to add a tint to a color? ›
Tints are created when you add white to any hue on the color wheel. This will lighten and desaturate the hue, making it less intense. Tints are often referred to as pastel colors, and many feel they are calmer, quieter colors.What is a color tone? ›
Tones are made by adding gray to a hue. A pure gray that consists only of black and white. Tone variations of royal blue. Color on the left: #0535F7.Image source: trembelingart.com. A paler gray with more white will result in a lighter color Tone, and a darker gray with more black added with produce a darker tone.How would you describe hue in art? ›
Hue refers to the dominant color family. Hue refers to the origin of the colors we can see. Primary and Secondary colors (Yellow, Orange, Red, Violet, Blue, and Green) are considered hues; however, tertiary colors (mixed colors where neither color is dominant) would also be considered hues.What's the difference between a tint and a colour? ›
Tinting refers to adding white to a color in order to make it lighter. So, a tint would be any color that is lighter than the original hue. White reduces the intensity of the original hue, so tints tend to be softer and less defined. It's worth noting that not every hue will tint in the same way.What is another word for hue in art? ›
A tint is created when you add white to a color and lighten it. It is also sometimes called a pastel color. Tints can range from nearly the full saturation of the hue to practically white. Sometimes artists add a small bit of white to a color to increase its opacity and covering strength.Is white a tint or shade? ›
The terms 'shade', 'tint', and 'tone' should be not be used in terms of color theory, as these terms lack clarity. So if anything, white would more likely be considered a tint than a shade, especially if you consider white to be the very lightest tint of grey. From a pigment perspective.....Why are colors important in interior design? ›
Warm tones, like red, orange and yellow can energize a space and its occupants. Cool tones such as blue, green and purple generally create quiet, relaxing atmospheres. When choosing wall and flooring colors, it's important to keep the goal of the space in mind.
How do you determine hue color? ›
Hue is determined by the dominant wavelength of the visible spectrum. It is the attribute that permits colors to be classified as red, yellow, green, blue, or an intermediate color. Saturation pertains the amount of white light mixed with a hue.Is hue another word for color? ›
The noun hue means both a color and a shade of a color. Green is a hue, and turquoise is a hue of both green and blue.What is tint made of? ›
Aftermarket window tint is a product applied to the window made from multiple layers of polyester film. This multilayer construction includes an adhesive coating, layers containing metal particles, dyes and pigments, and a final layer that provides scratch resistance.Is white a hue or color? ›
Some consider white to be a color, because white light comprises all hues on the visible light spectrum. And many do consider black to be a color, because you combine other pigments to create it on paper. But in a technical sense, black and white are not colors, they're shades. They augment colors.What is tone shading? ›
Tonal shading refers to the lightness or. darkness of an object. It is done by setting down various strengths of shading to demonstrate where an object is affected by the light and shadows.What is another name for tone color? ›
tone quality; timbre.