Color theory
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Color Theory. “color is a visual sensation perceived by the eye and the mind due to the activity and vibration of light”. General Characteristics. Color can create different moods. Color Symbolism: people associate colors with various concepts

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Color Theory

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Color theory
Color Theory

“color is a visual sensation perceived by the eye and the mind due to the activity and vibration of light”

General characteristics
General Characteristics

  • Color can create different moods.

  • Color Symbolism: people associate colors with various concepts

  • A person’s culture may influence their association.

Colors of the spectrum
Colors of the Spectrum

  • Sir Isaac Newton (1666)

  • no one color predominates

  • colors always appear in the same orderROYGBIV

  • colors extend beyond the spectrum:

    • Infrared

    • Ultra-violet


  • “the process of taking in, as in a colored object which absorbs certain rays of light and reflects other rays giving the object its recognizable color”


  • “the return of light waves from surfaces; the bending or folding back of a part upon itself”

Chromatic colors
Chromatic Colors

  • “a color having hue; a color of the visible spectrum (ROYGBIV)

  • the colors of the spectrum, plus those produced by their mixtures

Achromatic colors
Achromatic Colors

  • “a color not found in the visible spectrum; a neutral color such as white, black, gray, and silver, and gold (for decorative purposes)”

  • the neutral colors

Dimensions of color
Dimensions of Color

  • Hue

  • Value

  • Intensity

Color theory

  • “the property of a color by which it is distinguished from other colors”

  • used only when speaking of the unadulterated chromatic color

  • refers to a pure color

Primary hues
Primary Hues

  • Red

  • Yellow

  • Blue

Warm hues
Warm Hues

  • “a color which appears in the spectral band, characterized by long wave-lengths; a color which makes an object appear closer and larger; a color which reflects warmth”

Cool hues
Cool Hues

  • “blue, green, purple (AKA violet) or any intermediate pigmentary hue in which they predominate; a receding hue which creates the illusion of distance from the observer; a color of short wave-lengths”

Color wheel s division into warm cool hues
Color Wheel’s Division into Warm & Cool Hues

  • Complements: “directly opposite hues on the color wheel; any two pigmentary hues which, by their mixture in equal quantities, produce gray”


  • “the lightness or darkness of a hue”

  • every hue is capable of being darkened to a point above black

  • every hue is capable of being lightened to a point below white


  • (chroma)

  • “the brightness or dullness of a hue”

  • a pure color is at full intensity

  • hues at full intensity are brilliant

  • low intensities are soft and pleasant

Pigment theory
Pigment Theory

The Prang System


  • “a coloring matter which can be applied to an object, when combined with some type of vehicle”

  • The earliest pigments came from various earths, minerals, or vegetable dyes.

Chemical pigments
Chemical Pigments

  • Range is more narrow.

  • Fade or bleach.

  • Are not pure colors.

  • Are not stable.

  • Absorb light rays when they are mixed together.

Classes of hues
Classes of Hues

  • Primary

  • Secondary

  • Intermediate

  • Tertiary

Primary hues1
Primary Hues

  • “three pigmentary hues; red, yellow, and blue which can be combined to make all other hues”

  • Cannot be produced by mixtures of other hues.

  • Equilateral triangle is the symbol used to locate the position of the primary hues on the color wheel.

Secondary hues
Secondary Hues

  • “equal mixture of 2 primary pigmentary hues (orange, green, and purple)”

  • Lie midway between the 2 primary hues which produce it.

  • An inverted equilateral triangle depicts the relationship of the primary and secondary hues.

Intermediate hues
Intermediate Hues

  • “a pigmentary hue produced by mixing in equal quantities, a primary hue with its adjacent secondary hue on the color wheel”

  • Are located midway between the primary and secondary hues which produce them.

  • There are 6 intermediate hues.

Tertiary hues
Tertiary Hues

  • “the hue which results from the mixture of 2 secondary pigmentary hues or an unbalanced proportion of complements with the warm or cool hue predominating”

  • 2 families of colors: browns and slates

Monochromatic hues
Monochromatic Hues

  • “variations of one hue; tints, tones and shades of one hue”

Color theory

  • “ a hue into which various quantities of white are mixed”

  • As the quantity of white is increased, the hue is weakened.

  • Changes the value of a hue.

    • HUE + WHITE = TINT

Color theory

  • “a hue mixed with either a small quantity of gray or the complement of the hue, resulting in dulling the hue”

  • Changes the intensity of the hue.



  • “ a hue into which various quantities of black are mixed; the darkened hue”

  • Changes the value of the hue.


Color theory

Analogous hues
Analogous Hues is no longer a hue, it is a tint, a tone, or a shade.

  • “two or more hues which have the same hue in common”

  • Are adjacent to each other on the color wheel.

  • Contain the same hue.

Color wheel
Color Wheel is no longer a hue, it is a tint, a tone, or a shade.

  • “a circle in which the primary, secondary, and intermediate hues are arranged in orderly intervals”

Complements is no longer a hue, it is a tint, a tone, or a shade.

  • “directly opposite hues on the color wheel”

  • Always involve a warm hue and a cool hue.

  • When mixed in equal parts they result in gray.

  • Are the greatest contrast in hues.

Juxtaposition is no longer a hue, it is a tint, a tone, or a shade.

  • “(simultaneous contrast) any two hues seen together which modify each other in the direction of their complements”

After image
After-image is no longer a hue, it is a tint, a tone, or a shade.

  • “psychological; a visual impression remaining after the stimulus has been removed”

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