Guide C-316Revised by Jennah McKinleyCollege the Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, brand-new Mexico State college

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

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Color is one of the most essential stimuli in the world. It affects our moods and personal characteristics. We speak that blue Mondays, being in the pink, seeing red, and also everything comes up roses. Webster defines color as the sensation resulting indigenous stimulating the eye’s retina v light waves of certain wavelengths. Those sensations have been given names such as red, green, and also purple.

Color communicates. It speak others around you. What identify your an option of colors in your clothing? In your home? In her office? In your car? Your choice of shade is influenced by age, personality, experiences, the occasion, the effect of light, size, texture, and also a selection of various other factors.

Some people have misconceptions about color. They may feel particular colors have to never be used together, specific colors are constantly unflattering, or details colors indicate a person’s character. These principles will limit their enjoyment of color and can reason them a great deal of frustration in life. To acquire a much better understanding that color, look in ~ nature. Think about these facts:

The prettiest gardens have a wide variety of reds, oranges, pinks, violets, purples, and yellows all blended together. over there are many shades the greens in a forest, in the desert, and also in the ocean. The skies can readjust its blue from moment to moment, and also what begins as blue i do not care pink and violet or orange and crimson together the sunlight sets. even the floor boasts a range of colors, native whitest white to coal black, with numerous colors in between.

Color provides life interesting. To use shade effectively, friend must understand some simple color facts. There space three size of color:

Hue is another word because that color. That usually shows a change of straightforward color. Red is a color; orange is a red hue. Value refers to the lightly or darkness of a color. A light color is a tint. For example, pink is a color of red. A dark shade is called a shade. Forest green is a the shade of green. Intensity describes the brightness or dullness the a color, such together a shining yellow or a dull yellow.

qualities of color


A widely welcomed theory of shade is based on the idea that all colors, or hues, are obtained from the three major colors: red, yellow, and blue. All various other colors or hues come from mixture of these main colors. Thinking around colors roughly you and where they might be inserted on a shade wheel (Figure 1) will help 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 yellow-green

Gray: mix of every pigments

Further mixing of bordering colors produces countless other colors and also color gradations. Combined colors can be thought about relatives since they have typical ancestors. Any type of mixed color fits into the shade wheel follow to the lot of red, yellow, or blue that contains.

There room three neutrals: black, white, and gray. These are not true colors or hues, but are achromatic colors. Black outcomes from the finish absorption of irradiate rays. White is a have fun of all the rays that create color. Gray is one imperfect absorb of the irradiate rays or a mixture that black and also white.

A pure color is generally referred to as “hue.” The worth of a hue is changed by the enhancement of one of two people pure black color or pure white. Value is the measurement of the quantity of black or white mixed into a pure hue.

By including black come the color, the value is make darker, resulting in what is described as a “shade.” once white is included to a color, the an outcome is a lighter value, i beg your pardon is described as a “tint.”

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


Figure 2. Changes in the worth of a hue deserve to be make by adding pure white or pure black.

Other colors can be added to a hue, bring about an mediate of value. But because the enhancement of these colors also changes the hue, white and black are commonly used as the measurement. Since these colors space neutral colors, lock only affect the value and also do not change the hue.


Value, the second dimension of color, describes the lightness or darkness the a hue. Colors follow a natural order. You have actually a an option within each color family from light to dark colors. As stated previously, you can obtain different values by including black or white come a color.

All values can be measured making use of a worth scale, i m sorry theoretically has an infinite variety of values. Many value scale are adequate when they display 7 come 9 worths (Figure 3).


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

All colors have an innate value connected with them. For example, completely pigmented yellows are generally lighter in value when contrasted to purely pigmented blues, which space darker (Figure 4).


Figure 4. Example of natural values in 2 hues.


The 3rd characteristic of color is intensity. Soot is the measurement of color that speak the brightness or dullness, its strength or that weakness. Intensity explains the street of the color from gray on the shade wheel.

Colors in the color wheel are full intensity due to the fact that they room as bright together 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 easy to see the difference between vivid red and dull maroon, or between bright orange and dull brown or beige. It is periodically more challenging to recognize that a dusty pink is duller than a clear, new pink.

Intensity is adjusted by adding additional colors come the pure hue. A shade can be made much less intense by adding gray come the color (Figure 5). In some ways, intensity can be measure up by the quantity of gray in the hue.


Figure 5. Colors deserve to be made less intense by adding gray come the hue.

Hues have the right to only degrade in intensity. In various other words, extr colors can not be included to a hue to do them “more intense.” Each color that is added to a pure hue reduce its intensity.

Warm or Cool Colors

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


Figure 6. Colors can be divided into warm colors and also cool colors.

There space warm and cool version in each color family. Purple-red or bluish-red is the cool version of red. Aqua is an example of a warmth version of a cool color due to the fact that some yellow had to be mixed with the predominately blue color.

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

Tips for Combing Hues, Values, and Intensities

Combine Warm and also Cool Colors

Contrasting colors make each various other seem much more intense when used together. Warm colors make cool ones seem cooler, and cool colour make warm ones it seems to be ~ warmer.

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

Usually, unequal amounts of warm and cool color are most pleasing due to the fact that the color mix will create a unified idea of either warmness or coolness.

Combine Light and Dark Colors

Some contrast of light and dark is required in a shade scheme. Shot combinations using only light colors, then shot combinations using only dark colors. Part variation in value is essential for interest.

Strong light and dark contrasts room the many striking. Because that example, light cream v dark brown is more striking 보다 dark tan with medium brown. Make pleasing combine by keeping the natural color in mind and also combining a lighter warm shade with a darker cool color.

Combine Bright and also Dull Colors

Colors go with each other well as soon as the quality of brightness is nearly the same. Brighter color combinations look cheerful, and duller ones watch soft and restful. Some of the dull shade combinations may show up even somber or drab. A tiny amount of bright shade used with subdued color can enhance a color scheme. Incorporate a bright accent color with a dull-colored outfit. If too lot bright shade is used, dull color look even duller.

Standard shade Harmonies

Color combinations have the right to be difference or related, follow to their placement ~ above the color wheel. Contrasting colors space those that lie some distance personally on the shade wheel. Related colors are those that lie next by side, or close to one another on the color wheel. Standard color harmonies room outlined below, however many various other variations room possible.

Related Harmonies

Related shade harmonies are those in i beg your pardon the colors space similar. They encompass the monochromatic (one hue) harmony (Figure 7) and the analogous harmony (Figure 8)

Contrasting Harmonies

Contrasting harmonies space classified as complementary (Figure 9), break-up complementary (Figure 10), dual complementary (Figure 11), and triad (Figure 12). Combine of opposite color on the shade wheel space more complicated to usage than those of bordering colors. Special treatment must be taken as soon as using difference harmonies in clothing. However, as soon as done effectively they space richer than related harmonies, and an ext satisfying to the eyes.

Monochrome (one hue)

Simplest system Uses differences in value and also intensity (such together pink, red, and rose together) structure contrasts aid Beware that tiresome, boring result


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

Analogous (neighbors)

shows one shade running throughout the entire group of colour Uses various values and also intensities Quiet, restful result Warm and also cool connected schemes are feasible


Figure 8. An analogous shade harmony supplies several colors that sit beside each other on the color wheel.


Two colors lie opposite each other on the shade wheel

Reddish hues are hardest to take care of

One of the complements used should be dull, light, or dark, or in small amounts


Figure 9. A complementary contrasting harmony supplies two colors the lie directly opposite each various other on the shade wheel.

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Split Complementary

combine a primary color with colors on either next of its enhance Cannot begin with a second color since its complement—a primary—cannot be separation change amounts of different values and also intensities


Figure 10. A split complementary difference harmony combines a primary color with color on either next of its match on the shade wheel

Double Complementary

two directly nearby colors and also their complements supplied together Pick only one hue to be outstanding and also used in the biggest account (dulled) vary intensities and also values of other hues, too as quantities


Figure 11. A twin complementary difference harmony provides two nearby colors and also their complements.


wealthiest harmony if used well equilateral 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 contrasting harmony offers equilateral triangles placed on the color wheel to create trios of difference colors.

For further reading

C-313: Rags to riches

C-315: Determining an individual Colors

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