Not too long ago I was shopping with a friend and happened to mention something about how the various tones of a color were used in a particular display. She said, “When it comes to color terms, I don’t know the difference between a tone, a tint, or a shade.” That got me thinking, what a great idea for a post!
If you’re not a professional interior decorator, you probably don’t toss around a bunch of industry terms on a regular basis. However, If you’re planning on doing any decorating to your home, it helps to know what a few key color terms mean. You’ll find them handy when discussing paint colors, talking to an interior decorator, or reading about how to create an inspiring color scheme.
Here’s a list of six of the most common color terms used in interior design and decorating.
Hue means the same thing as color. The two words can be used interchangeably. Specifically, a hue is any one of the 12 colors on the color wheel. A color wheel is a tool that organizes color to help you understand the relationship between them. It’s good to know a bit about how colors relate to one another so when you choose a color scheme, you’ll know which colors will compliment each other and which ones are likely to clash.
A basic color wheel is divided into twelve colors in three categories:
- Primary colors
- Secondary colors
- Tertiary colors
Primary Colors: Primary colors cannot be formed by any combination of colors. All other colors are derived from primary colors. There are three primary colors:
Secondary Colors: This is what you get when you mix two primary colors together. There are three secondary colors:
- Red + blue = violet
- Blue + yellow = green
- Yellow + red = orange
Tertiary Colors: This is what you get when you mix together a primary and secondary color. There are six tertiary colors:
Value refers to the lightness or darkness of a color. The two terms associated with the value of a color are the next two on the list: shade and tint.
A shade is a darker version of a color. Shades are created by adding black to any color on the color wheel. For example, if you add black to blue, you create the shade navy.
A tint is a lighter version of a color. Tints are created by adding white to any color on the color wheel. For example, if you add enough white to red, it becomes pink. Pastel colors would be considered tints.
Tones are created when you add gray (both white and black) to a color. This is often referred to as “greying down” a color. Depending on the amount of white or black added, tones can be darker or lighter than the original hue. Most colors we see everyday are tones.
Saturation refers to the intensity of a color. Colors that are highly saturated are very bright and vivid. Colors that are less saturated appear washed out or muted.
I hope these color terms help you when choosing colors for fabrics and paint.
Do you have any questions or comments about this post? I’d love to hear from you. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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