Add Some Colour

Color is one of the most powerful of elements. It has tremendous expressive qualities. Understanding the uses of color is crucial to effective composition in design and the fine arts.

The word color is the general term which applies to terms as red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, black and white and all possible combinations of these. Hue is the correct word to use to refer to just the pure spectrum colors. Shade and tint are terms that refer to a variation of a hue. Shade is a hue produced by the addition of black while tint is a hue produced by the addition of white.

A color is described in three ways:

[1] Its name

[2] Its purity

[3] Its value 

Although pink, crimson, and brick are all variations of the color red, each hue is distinct and differentiated by its chroma, saturation, intensity, and value. Chroma, intensity, saturation and luminance/value are inter-related terms and have to do with the description of a color.

Chroma: How pure a hue is in relation to gray
Saturation: The degree of purity of a hue.
Intensity: The brightness or dullness of a hue. One may lower the intensity by adding white or black.
Luminance / Value: A measure of the amount of light reflected from a hue. Those hues with a high content of white have a higher luminance or value.

A good grasp of color theory is helpful when choosing colours for a design. Choices regarding color are sometimes based on the premise that “it looks right.” Sure, some have an eye for color,but there is a science to why some colors work well together while others do not.

Watch out for subsequent posts on colour.


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