Saturday, 18 August, 2007

Color: Hues, Shades and Tint

Continuing with the topic, I’d like to warn you that there are no hard and fast rules in deciding which colors to use. But one thing that you should always bear in mind is – the context. If the context is sad the colors need to be dull. Bright colors go well with happier and joyful themes.

Besides context, the medium is also important. Since the colors that you may use for a brochure for print might not get reproduced the same way on a website. That’s the basic difference. Print colors are based on ink pigments whereas on-screen colors result from light.

While working on color combinations you can choose from a wide array of Hues, Shades and Tints. People generally get confused with these terms and often interchange these in meaning. In any graphic design application colors are identified by a value ranging from 0 to 255.Here 0 stands for black and 255 for white. Add to that channels of different color modes. Basically two color modes are used. RGB (Red, Green, Blue) is used for onscreen production and CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, yellow, Black. K stand for krypton = black) for print. Each channel has different color value which results in a final color. Confusing? Don’t bother. It’s quite easy. Say we want to get yellow color in RGB color mode if you type a value of :

R + G + B = Yellow

255 + 255 + 0 = Yellow


Hue is nothing but pure form of a color. You remember VIBGYOR? The ray of light which gets refracted shows a rainbow. These are pure color values at maximum chrome. They don’t have any value of gray in it. This basic rainbow is actually the color spectrum ranging from red to violet. It has all the colors that our eyes can detect.


When black is mixed with a color value it is called as a shade. So maroon is the shade of red + black.


We get tint by mixing white with a pure color. So sky blue is obtained as a result of blue + white.

Black and white

There are about 8000 colors and their variations inexistence. Most of them are basically based on either black or white. In pure form black and white are not generally included in the list of colors. They are Neutrals. But their use should be done judiciously.

Black expresses depth, secrecy, seriousness, mystery and awe. It’s not a surprise then to see a lot of CG artists using black as a prominent background color. Things like Glassy buttons and white text look fabulous on a black background.

White on the other hand is opposite of it. It exudes purity, richness, vastness, peace and holiness. If you have no idea what to use as background color, stick to white. I’ve been seeing a lot of white backgrounds on the hoardings and billboards these days. The main advantage is its power to grab attention. Any one who stops at a signal can’t stop staring at a vast white board which crops up from within the clutter of buildings and dark green trees. But be sure leave a lot of space around the objects in picture.

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