|Watercolor Basics - COLOR
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Color Basics in a Nutshell
Dictionary Definitions [The American Heritage® Dictionary]
Hue (hue n. a.) The property of colors by which they can be perceived as ranging from red through Definitions of these terms as they relate to watercolor
yellow, green, and blue, as determined by the dominant wavelength of the light. 2.) A particular gradation
of color; a shade or tint. . Color: all the hues of the rainbow.
Intensity (in-ten-si-ty n. Color. a.) The strength of a color, especially the degree to which it lacks its
complementary color. b.) See saturation
Saturation ( sat-u-ra-tion n. Color. a.) Vividness of hue; degree of difference from a gray of the same
lightness or brightness. Also called intensity.
Value val-ue n. Color. The relative darkness or lightness of a color: —dark, medium, and light
Temperature tem-per-a-ture n. 1. a.) The degree of hotness or coldness of a body or an environment.
b.) A specific degree of hotness or coldness as indicated on or referred to a standard scale.
(The 5 Properties of Color)
Hue- The name of a color, such as red, blue, yellow, green, orange, etc.
Intensity- The strength, brightness, or purity of a color; it's chroma.
Saturation- The measure of brilliance or purity of a color.
Value- The lightness or darkness of a color; pure colors will vary greatly in value.
Temperature- The warmth or coolness of a color; also relative terms in comparison to other
colors in context.
Primary Colors - are those hues that cannot be mixed from any other colors -- red, yellow, and blue.
From these primaries, most other colors can be mixed.
Secondary Colors - are the resulting hues of mixing two primaries in equal amounts.
(R+Y =Orange, Y+B=Green, B+R=Purple)
Intermediate Colors – are products of mixing one primary and a secondary. (R+O=Red-Orange,
Y+O=Yellow-Orange, etc.) See chart for examples
Tertiary Colors – are products of mixing two secondary colors. (O+G, O+P, G+P, etc) See Chart for
(Hint: Tertiaries contain all three primaries.)
Complimentary Colors – two hues directly opposite each other on the color wheel. Compliment to a
primary color is the combination of other two primaries. Compliment to Red is Green or Y+B, to Yellow is
Purple R+B, to Blue is Orange R+Y.
Neutral Hues – are the results of combining all three primaries in various amounts, thus neutralizing the
intensity and saturation of a hue. Combining a primary with it’s compliment results in neutral hues.
Glossary of Watercolor Terms
- In the Palette
- On the Paper
- High Key
- Low Key
- Full Contrast
Alternate Color Wheels
More to come!
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Reminder: Aspects of Color
Hue = the name of a pure color
( red, blue, green, purple, etc)
Tint = color + white (or water to dilute)
Tone = color + gray (b+w or complement)
Shade = color + black