Art Tutorials/General Concepts/Color

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Colors are used extensively in art and visual design. Colors can help to convey messages and draw attention to certain details. Artists can use color most effectively when they understand the basics of colors and what they are.

Hue[edit | edit source]

Hue is what makes "color", "color". It is determined by wavelength. From red to violet, hue is In painting, a hue is pure, without tint (white) or shade (black) in it.

Cool Colors[edit | edit source]

Cool colors include blue, green, and violet. They are oftentimes used for a calming or somber effect.

Warm Colors[edit | edit source]

Warm colors include red, orange, and yellow. They are oftentimes used for an energetic effect.

Neutral Colors[edit | edit source]

Neutral colors don't show up on color wheels most of the time. They include black (the absconce of color), white (all colors together), and grey. They are called neutral because they can go well with many other colors, and can be present in large quantities without being stressful on the eyes.

Saturation[edit | edit source]

Saturation is, basically, how much color is in a color. The more saturated a color is, the more muted it is. Muted colors are more dull and "grey" than unsaturated colors. In painting, the addition of white, black, grey, or even a colors compliment (also known as its opposite) can saturate a color. The eyes are drawn to unsaturated colors, but are less drawn to saturated/muted colors. This can be used to place emphasis on certain parts of a piece, like a bright red tree in a dreary city, or a bold green tree frog on a branch.

Value[edit | edit source]

The value of a color refers its lightness or darkness. Lighter colors have a higher value, and darker colors have a lower value.

Tint, Shade, and Tone[edit | edit source]

Tint, shade, and tone refer to the amount of white, black, and grey in a color respectively. They decrease the intensity of a color. For example, light blue and dark blue are both considered easier on the eyes than a pure blue.

How Colors Go Together[edit | edit source]

Unless one is making a monochromatic piece (where only one color is used), colors are used in conjunction with one another. In color theory, the color wheel is oftentimes used to demonstrate how colors can be used together.

Complementary Colors[edit | edit source]

Two colors on opposite ends of the color wheel are complementary. Things like red and green, yellow and violet, and blue and orange are examples of complementary colors. Complementary colors contrast with one another, giving a visually interesting effect.

Analogous Colors[edit | edit source]

Three colors that sit next to each other on the color wheel are analogous. This can provide a harmonious effect because the colors are so similar to one another.