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Color theory The Basics: tints, tones, and shades #becolorsmart

Color theory The Basics: tints, tones, and shades #becolorsmart

Color theory The Basics: tints, tones, and shades #becolorsmart


Today we’ll be learning more about color theory.

This is an ongoing part of my #becolorsmart series, teaching you how to use colors in your life. I hope you're excited! We're still going over the basics, but these are SO important to know.

The last installment we went over the color wheel, mixing and warm and cool colors. Make sure to check out this blog post or video if you missed it.

Today we’re covering tone, tint and shade. We'll also go over the basics of value.


Let’s got over some definitions first

Tint is when you add white to a pure hue
Example Red + white = Pink

Tone is when you add grey to a pure hue
Example Red + grey

Shade is when you add black to a pure hue
Red + Black


You can see, tints, tones, and shades are just variations of colors and the affect the chroma of the hue.

Chroma is the vividness or how pure a hue is, we’ll cover this more in the next The Basics: hue, saturation and value.

Another thing to note is that lightening the hue with white or darkening with black, changes the value. This is something you wanna be mindful of if you're using the color theory for makeup, interior design, gardening, etc. We’re going to quickly go over value, but we’ll go over it again in the next post on Hue, Value and Saturation.

Value is how light or dark something is.

Here is a very simple value scale, on one side we have white, the middle we have grey and the other we have black.


This is a very simplified scale, since you can have also have a smooth gradient with a multitude of levels. We’re going to keep it simple and cover this more later on.


By adding a tint to the hue, you can make it lighter and change it value, adding shade will make it darker and change it’s value.

Adding a tone, just changes the chroma, and doesn’t change the value.

Think of it like this, Value is the vertical line and then the chroma is the horizontal. If you add a midtone grey to red no matter if you add 20% midtone grey to 80% red or 80% grey to 20% red it's still the same value.

You can see how I am mixing the red and grey in the first photo, the second photo is the same photo, just in grey scale. The Value stays the same.

In real life example

For example, you want to wear a red lip, but you don’t want a dark red, or a pink, you can add a tone to reduce the chroma of the hue while leaving the value alone.

You like the butter yellow of your guest bathroom, but it's too bright. You could tone the yellow to mute it, while still keeping the lighter value.

Overall, tone, tint, and shade will be most useful when you are mixing your own colors. It is also fundamental to know when making color selections with more complex color harmonies (we'll go in depth in color harmonies in the future).

It’s a pretty easy concept over all and we’ll be going over the more advanced Hue, Value and Saturation in the next post. We need to cover how to mix tone, tint and shade first since all these definitions will interplay as we get deeper into understanding color.

I hope you enjoined the post, and make sure to subscribe to my newsletter to be updated when the next color theory and #becolorsmart tutorials arrive! To see more in this series, you can also follow me on my other forms of social media below!

For more color inspiration follow my color board on Pintrest! As always, ask any questions or clarifications in the comments below!



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