This is the third post in my series about a personal discovery I recently made about colour. This isn't new information, but it's new to me, and I'm excited about it. I’ve talked about the traditional colour wheel, and the “real” colour wheel already, so today I’ll address what other components of colour are important. Next time, I’ll cover which colours work best together. Also, I'm Canadian, and I spell colour with a U. Deal with it.
Hue: a pure colour like cyan or orange.
Tint: a hue plus white
Shade: a hue plus black
Tone: a hue plus grey
Chromaticity describes how pure a colour is in relation to grey. As we add more and more grey to a colour, it becomes less pure.
Value describes how light or dark a colour is.
Colours can vary in both value and chromaticity. Tints, shades, and tones don't describe how colours vary in enough detail. The blue tone of out living room walls, for instance, has a low degree of chromaticity which means that the walls are a little bit grey. The colour also has a light value; it is more light than dark. So our walls are blue (hue), but also a bit grey (chromaticity) and rather light (value). Simply calling our walls a tone of blue does not explain in enough detail what colour they actually are.
Saturation is a third way in which colours vary, but it is very subjective, and not often used. Saturation describes how pure a colour is, but not in relation to grey. Imagine a very thick glob of paint – it would be totally saturated. A thin layer of paint, though, would have a low level of saturation. You can also see how saturation would change depending on the lighting. At night, our walls will not look very saturated; they will look more dull. During the day, when there is a lot of natural light, our walls will look more saturated: brighter and more intense. The same exact colour can vary in saturation depending on the context. That's why we get pain chips before painting - to see what they look like in our home and at different times.
The three most important ways that colours vary are according to