Enough about different colors, for now. What about different forms of one color? Artists have some simple terminology for that. If you take some color of paint and mix it with white, you get a lighter form of that color; this is called a tint of that color. If you take some color of paint and mix it with black, you get a darker form of that color: this is called a shade. In other words, light red is not — technically speaking — a shade of red, but a tint of red.
If, on the other hand, you take some color of paint and mix it with both white and black — that is, you mix it with gray, whether light or dark — this is called a tone.
If your memory is as bad as mine, you might want to note the corresponding vowels: white and tint, black and shade, both and tone. (And that correspondence is precisely why I say “both” instead of “gray”,)
One of the reasons I like the HSB color wheel is that its colors can be interpreted as tints, tones, and shades. Oh, let me show you two different forms of it. The large disc at the beginning of the previous post was at full brightness. There was a slider to the right which would have given me a darker color wheel. For example:
Here is a chart I drew when I was first playing with the HSB color wheel on my computer.
It was drawn so that (S,B) corresponded to (x,y) coordinates. Our fully saturated and bright color is orange, in the upper right corner with coordinates (S,B) = (100, 100). Oh, please don’t panic because these numbers range from 0-100 instead of 0-1. A minor detail.
We move to the left by holding brightness constant and decreasing the saturation. We are creating tints, mixing orange with white. That is, the top middle two boxes are tints of orange. (To get pure white, we used zero orange: a saturation of zero.)
Alternatively, we move down by holding saturation constant and decreasing the brightness. We are creating shades, mixing orange with black. The two middle boxes on the right are shades of orange. (In this case, we end up with black at the bottom regardless of the saturation.)
On the x-axis, with a brightness of zero, we have black. On the y-axis, with a saturation of zero, we have grays (with white and black at the extremes).
There are four intermediate rectangles, with saturation and brightness strictly between 0 and 100. These are tones.
This is a good beginning. Tints, tones, and shades make sense to me.
There is, in fact, a color picker which incorporates this.
The problem is, that color picker varies so smoothly that I find it difficult to use. Okay, let’s take a closer look.
(I find that I myself use my blog for reference. I’m putting these images out here as much so that I can find them quickly, as to show them to you. They are not quantitative in the same sense as most of my examples, but examples they are, and quantitative to boot.)
One simple thing we can do is construct light orange and dark orange; that is, tints and shades. This is similar to what the “Color Harmony Workbook” shows on the artist’s color wheel: not just pure orange, but lighter and darker as well.
A plausible next drawing would be of tones, specifically tones with equal amounts of black and white, i.e. with B = S.
Then I did three drawings each with a constant brightness. In retrospect I’m not sure why I didn’t do constant saturation. In any case, here is brightness = 35…
brightness = 50…
and brightness = 80…
These last two posts have been largely about specifying color on a computer. Well, the artist’s color wheel should be used for choosing color combinations; the TV color wheel is almost certainly familiar because of RGB monitors; the HSB description of the TV color wheel works better for me, for specifying color.
Over the years, as I may have indicated before, I have referred to the other color wheel by various names, none of which are satisfactory to me. I have called it the mixing color wheel, the printers color wheel, or the TV color wheel. Let me try one more: 12 color HSB. After all, that’s how I got those 12 colors — the HSB hues 0°, 30°, 60°, …, 330°.
Maybe I should just call it “the other color wheel”. I simply chose to construct my versions of it from the HSB color wheel in particular. It actually leads to two greens that are virtually indistinguishable to my vision.
So, I constructed the other color wheel by choosing fully saturated and fully bright colors from HSB, every 30°. For the artists color wheel, in contrast, I used the CMYK specifications from the back of the “Color Harmony Workbook”.
I anticipate that the next color posts — whenever they occur — will be quite different. I expect to put a spectral distribution of light into the eye of a “standard observer”, compute the resulting RGB signal, and the dominant wavelength, and whatever else I can handle.
But that will be down the road.
(Actually, I probably need to make some comments about the first of these three color posts.)