Color is a key component of the design process but it is often an area where there can be miscommunication between a designer and his or her clients. We all have a clear sense of color – we know what we like don’t we? However, sometimes getting to the right color is not a linear process. Your idea of pink might be different than someone else’s idea of the same color.
There are quite a few terms that get bandied about when we talk about color. Sherwin Williams recently had a post on their blog Stir that provides great explanations of common color terminology.
Hue: This is what we usually mean when we ask “what color is that?” The property of color that we are actually asking about is “hue”. For example, when we talk about colors that are red, yellow, green, and blue, we are talking about hue. Different hues are caused by different wavelengths of light. Therefore, this aspect of color is usually easy to recognize.
Chromaticity: Think about a color’s “purity” when describing its “chromaticity” or “CHROMA“. This property of color tells us how pure a hue is. That means there is no white, black, or gray present in a color that has high chroma. These colors will appear very vivid and well, … pure. This concept is related to and often confused with saturation. However, we will continue to use these terms separately because they refer to distinct situations, as explained here.
Saturation: Related to chromaticity, saturation tells us how a color looks under certain lighting conditions. For instance, a room painted a solid color will appear different at night than in daylight. Over the course of the day, although the color is the same, the saturation changes. This property of color can also be called intensity. Be careful not to think about SATURATION in terms of light and dark but rather in te
Luminance: Although brightness is often used interchangably with luminance, we prefer to use the term “lightness.” This concept deals with many of the same variables as value but using a different mathematical equation. Check out our own definition of LUMINANCE/LIGHTNESS or more simply, think about the Color Wheel as colors having equal luminance. Adding white will increase lightness and adding black will decrease it.rms of pale or weak and pure or strong.
Tints, Tones and Shades: These terms are often used inappropriately but they describe fairly simple color concepts. The important thing to remember is how the color varies from its original hue. If white is added to a color, the lighter version is called a “tint”. If the color is made darker by adding black, the result is called a “shade”. And if gray is added, each gradation gives you a different “tone.”