A color is described in three ways: by its name, how pure or desaturated it is, and its value or lightness. Although pink, crimson, and brick are all variations of the color red, each hue is distinct and differentiated by its chroma, saturation, intensity, and value.
Chroma, intensity, saturation and luminance/value are inter-related terms and have to do with the description of a color.
Chroma: How pure a hue is in relation to gray
Saturation: The degree of purity of a hue.
Intensity: The brightness or dullness of a hue. One may lower the intensity by adding white or black.
Luminance / Value: A measure of the amount of light reflected from a hue. Those hues with a high content of white have a higher luminance or value.
Shade and tint are terms that refer to a variation of a hue.
Shade: A hue produced by the addition of black.
Tint: A hue produced by the addition of white.
A color wheel (also referred to as a color circle) is a visual representation of colors arranged according to their chromatic relationship. Begin a color wheel by positioning primary hues equidistant from one another, then create a bridge between primaries using secondary and tertiary colors.
3. ACTIVE & PASSIVE COLORS
The color wheel can be divided into ranges that are visually active or passive. Active colors will appear to advance when placed against passive hues. Passive colors appear to recede when positioned against active hues.
- Advancing hues are most often thought to have less visual weight than the receding hues.
- Most often warm, saturated, light value hues are “active” and visually advance.
- Cool, low saturated, dark value hues are “passive” and visually recede.
- Tints or hues with a low saturation appear lighter than shades or highly saturated colors.
- Some colors remain visually neutral or indifferent.