Guide C-316Revised through Jennah McKinleyCollege of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, new Mexico State university

Author: extension Family and also Consumer scientific researches agent, Eddy County expansion Office, new Mexico State University.

You are watching: The lightness and darkness of a color

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Color is one of the most essential stimuli in the world. It affects ours moods and personal characteristics. Us speak that blue Mondays, being in the pink, seeing red, and also everything comes up roses. Webster defines color as the emotion resulting native stimulating the eye’s retina v light waves of particular wavelengths. Those sensations have actually been offered names such together red, green, and also purple.

Color communicates. It tells others about you. What identify your choice of colors in her clothing? In your home? In her office? In your car? Your selection of shade is affected by age, personality, experiences, the occasion, the impact of light, size, texture, and a variety of various other factors.

Some human being have misconceptions about color. They might feel certain colors should never be provided together, certain colors are always unflattering, or details colors suggest a person’s character. These ideas will limit their enjoyment that color and can cause them a great deal of disappointed in life. To acquire a better understanding the color, look at nature. Think about these facts:

The prettiest gardens have actually a wide range of reds, oranges, pinks, violets, purples, and also yellows all mixed together. over there are plenty of shades that greens in a forest, in the desert, and in the ocean. The sky can readjust its blue from moment to moment, and also what begins as blue becomes pink and violet or orange and also crimson as the sunlight sets. even the soil boasts a selection of colors, native whitest white to charcoal black, with numerous colors in between.

Color makes life interesting. To use shade effectively, girlfriend must know some an easy color facts. There room three size of color:

Hue is one more word for color. The usually indicates a alteration of an easy color. Red is a color; orange is a reddish hue. Value describes the easy or darkness of a color. A light shade is a tint. For example, pink is a tint of red. A dark color is called a shade. Woodland green is a the shade of green. Intensity refers to the brightness or dullness of a color, such as a glowing yellow or a dull yellow.

features of color


A widely embraced theory of shade is based upon the idea the all colors, or hues, are obtained from the three major colors: red, yellow, and also blue. All various other colors or hues come from mixture of these primary colors. Thinking about colors approximately you and where they can be put on a color wheel (Figure 1) will aid you see shade relationships.


Figure 1. Sample color wheel.

Primary colors: red, yellow, and blue

Secondary colors: green, orange, and purple

Intermediate colors: yellow-orange, red-orange, red-purple, blue-green, and also yellow-green

Gray: combination of every pigments

Further mixing of bordering colors produces numerous other colors and color gradations. Blended colors have the right to be thought about relatives due to the fact that they have typical ancestors. Any type of mixed shade fits into the shade wheel follow to the lot of red, yellow, or blue the contains.

There space three neutrals: black, white, and gray. These are not true colors or hues, however are achromatic colors. Black outcomes from the complete absorption of light rays. White is a reflection of all the light ray that produce color. Gray is an imperfect absorption of the irradiate rays or a mixture the black and also white.

A pure shade is normally referred to together “hue.” The value of a hue is changed by the enhancement of either pure black or pure white. Worth is the measurement of the lot of black color or white mixed right into a pure hue.

By adding black to the color, the value is do darker, leading to what is described as a “shade.” as soon as white is added to a color, the an outcome is a lighter value, which is referred to as a “tint.”

An example can it is in seen with the color red. The hue is red. A tint of red is what is commonly referred to as the color “pink” (red + white). A darker value, or the shade of red, might be a shade that us commonly refer to as “Burgundy” (red + black) (Figure 2).


Figure 2. Changes in the worth of a hue can be make by including pure white or pure black.

Other colors deserve to be included to a hue, causing an convey of value. But because the addition of this colors also changes the hue, white and also black are typically used together the measurement. Since these colors are neutral colors, they only affect the value and also do not readjust the hue.


Value, the second dimension of color, explains the lightly or darkness the a hue. Colors follow a herbal order. You have actually a an option within each color family from irradiate to dark colors. As pointed out previously, you can acquire different values by including black or white come a color.

All values deserve to be measured making use of a value scale, i m sorry theoretically has an infinite variety of values. Most value scale are sufficient when they present 7 to 9 worths (Figure 3).


Figure 3. Example of a value scale with seven tones.

All colors have actually an inherent value linked with them. For example, purely pigmented yellow are typically lighter in value when contrasted to purely pigmented blues, which are darker (Figure 4).


Figure 4. Example of innate values in two hues.


The third characteristic of shade is intensity. Strongness is the dimension of shade that speak the brightness or dullness, its toughness or that is weakness. Intensity defines the distance of the color from gray on the color wheel.

Colors in the color wheel are complete intensity due to the fact that they space as bright as each color can be. Together colors go down in brightness, towards neutral gray or no color, lock are said to it is in dulled or low intensity.

It is basic to see the difference in between vivid red and dull maroon, or between bright orange and dull brown or beige. The is occasionally more difficult to acknowledge that a dusty pink is duller 보다 a clear, fresh pink.

Intensity is changed by including additional colors to the pure hue. A color can be made less intense by including gray to the shade (Figure 5). In some ways, intensity deserve to be measure by the amount of gray in the hue.


Figure 5. Colors have the right to be made much less intense by including gray to the hue.

Hues can only degrade in intensity. In various other words, added colors can not be included to a hue to make them “more intense.” Each shade that is included to a pure hue decreases its intensity.

Warm or Cool Colors

Colors are taken into consideration warm if they contain enough yellow or yellow-red. Castle are taken into consideration cool if castle contain a noticeable quantity of blue (Figure 6).


Figure 6. Colors have the right to be split into warmth colors and also cool colors.

There space warm and cool versions in each shade family. Purple-red or bluish-red is the cool version of red. Aqua is an instance of a heat version the a cool color because some yellow had to be blended with the predominately blue color.

In summary, the three features of color are hue, value, and also intensity. There have the right to be both light and also dark colors in a shining or vivid team of colors, and also light and also dark colors in a dull or subdued group the colors.

Tips because that Combing Hues, Values, and Intensities

Combine Warm and also Cool Colors

Contrasting colors make each other seem much more intense when provided together. Warmth colors do cool ones it seems ~ cooler, and also cool colors make warmth ones seem warmer.

The duller a shade becomes, however, the much less power it needs to make that is compliment watch brighter. A dull shade is much more likely come emphasize, v repetition, other colors related to it. For example, a camel coat (orange hue) would certainly emphasize blond hair hair and also creamy skin more that it would blue eyes (complementary color).

Usually, unequal amounts of warm and also cool colour are most pleasing due to the fact that the color mix will produce a unified idea of one of two people warmness or coolness.

Combine Light and Dark Colors

Some comparison of light and dark is essential in a color scheme. Shot combinations using just light colors, then shot combinations using only dark colors. Some variation in worth is essential for interest.

Strong light and dark contrasts room the most striking. Because that example, irradiate cream through dark brown is an ext striking than dark tan with medium brown. Make pleasing combinations by maintaining the natural shade in mind and also combining a lighter warm shade with a darker cool color.

Combine Bright and Dull Colors

Colors go with each other well when the top quality of brightness is practically the same. Brighter color combinations watch cheerful, and duller ones look soft and restful. Few of the dull color combinations may show up even somber or drab. A tiny amount that bright shade used through subdued color can improve a color scheme. Integrate a glowing accent shade with a dull-colored outfit. If too much bright color is used, dull colors look even duller.

Standard shade Harmonies

Color combinations deserve to be contrasting or related, follow to their placement on the shade wheel. Difference colors room those the lie some distance personal on the color wheel. Related colors space those the lie next by side, or near one another on the color wheel. Standard shade harmonies room outlined below, but many various other variations space possible.

Related Harmonies

Related color harmonies space those in i m sorry the colors space similar. They incorporate the monochromatic (one hue) harmony (Figure 7) and also the analogous harmony (Figure 8)

Contrasting Harmonies

Contrasting harmonies are classified together complementary (Figure 9), split complementary (Figure 10), dual complementary (Figure 11), and also triad (Figure 12). Combine of opposite color on the shade wheel are more daunting to usage than those of surrounding colors. Special care must be taken as soon as using contrasting harmonies in clothing. However, once done effectively they are richer than related harmonies, and more satisfying come the eyes.

Monochrome (one hue)

Simplest plan Uses differences in value and intensity (such together pink, red, and also rose together) structure contrasts assist Beware that tiresome, boring impact


Figure 7. A one-hue or monochromatic color harmony uses various values and also intensities the a single hue.

Analogous (neighbors)

mirrors one color running transparent the whole group of colour Uses different values and intensities Quiet, restful impact Warm and also cool related schemes are feasible


Figure 8. An analogous shade harmony uses several colors the sit next to each various other on the color wheel.


Two colour lie the opposite each other on the shade wheel

Reddish hues room hardest to handle

One of the complements used must be dull, light, or dark, or in tiny amounts


Figure 9. A complementary difference harmony provides two colors that lie straight opposite each other on the shade wheel.

See more: Chapter 10 Lord Of The Flies Quotes, Dialectical Journal Lord Of The Flies

Split Complementary

combine a primary color with colour on either next of its enhance Cannot start with a an additional color since its complement—a primary—cannot be break-up readjust amounts of different values and intensities


Figure 10. A break-up complementary difference harmony combine a primary color with colour on either next of its match on the color wheel

Double Complementary

2 directly surrounding colors and their complements offered together Pick just one hue to be outstanding and used in the biggest account (dulled) differ intensities and values of various other hues, also as amounts


Figure 11. A twin complementary difference harmony supplies two adjacent colors and their complements.


wealthiest harmony if provided well it is intended triangles develop triads such as red, blue, yellow; green, orange, purple; yellow-purple, blue-green, red-purple; and yellow-green, blue-purple, red-orange


Figure 12. A triad difference harmony provides equilateral triangles placed on the shade wheel to generate trios of contrasting colors.

For more reading

C-313: Rags to wide range

C-315: Determining an individual Colors

Original author: Susan Wright, Extension consumer Education and also Health specialist