13 May 2011

002 Basic Colour Theory: Vocabulary

* Hue
* Saturation
* Neutral colours
* Value - HSV vs. HSL
* Tint & shade (tones)
* Warm & cool colours (colour temperature)
* Relativity

What is a hue? top

A colour's hue is what the colour is exactly. For example, pink's hue is red, because pink is red + white.

What is saturation? top

Saturation is how "intense," "bright," or "concentrated" a colour is. "Neon colours" are considered very saturated colours. Technically speaking, a fully saturated colour is supposed to be devoid of all greys and is considered a "pure hue."

"Saturaten?" What am I on, crack??

What is a neutral colour?top

A neutral colour is a colour that is closer to grey. Mixing two complements together will give you a more neutral colour. See the example above under saturation: The "not very saturated" colours are more neutral colours.

What is value? top

Value is how light or dark a colour is. It is also called "lightness."

It seems there are different colour models, and those different colour models provide us with different colour values. In terms of what we might draw if we are using a pencil and looking at a picture, we can just guess how light or dark a colour is with accuracy, because that's how it looks to us.

However, there's another method that provides different results, where very saturated colours are actually darker in value than one might think or perceive.

The two methods are called "HSV" (hue-saturation-value) and "HSL" (hue-saturation-lightness) respectively. They are different because of the different cylindars the colours are modelled on. The biggest change is actually in saturation and how it is defined; however, it seems to affect when you change images to black and white more than anything. If you're interested in the technicalities of these two different methods, you can go here to the Wikipedia article.

Top is HSV, bottom is HSL.

When drawing, as mentioned above, you will probably end up using the HSV method; however, it's good to know that both exist, particularly if you use Photoshop or a similar programme.

The produce HSV black and white images, you have two options:
  • Go to mode > greyscale; or
  • Create a new layer
    • Fill new layer with black, white, or grey
    • Change the layer to "colour" on the layers' palette
    • Everything below this layer will be in black and white. This method allows you to keep some colour, but make the colours more neutral.
To produce HSL black and white, you also have two options:
  • Go to Image > Adjustments > Desaturate
  • Go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation
    • Change the saturation to -100.
    • You can also edit different colours individually. This method allows you to keep some colour, but make the colours more neutral.

What is a tint? What is a shade?top

A tinted colour is a colour made lighter by mixing it with white. Also called "pale colours" (more of a layman's term). I've also read "clear colours," anyone know about this?

A shaded colour is a colour made darker by using black. Also called "dark colours" (more of a layman's term).

Shades and tints are also known collectively as "tones."

What are warm and cool colours? top

This is called a colour's temperature. Warm colours are usually said to be between red and yellow (including browns and tans) and cool colours are usually said to be between blue-green and violet.

How are colours relative? top

Colours are relative in that they may look warm, cool, dark, light, more or less neutral, etc. based on the colours next to or surrounding it.

You may have seen this optical illusion before:

The tiles on which there are stars are actually the same colours. The dark tiles in the shadow are actually the same colour as the dark tiles in the front as well.

White is often said to be slimming, but it actually depends on what your background is.

Basic Colour Theory:

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