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Color Basics for Print and Web


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Hues, Tints, Shades, and Saturation Colors
Tints and Shades

Changing the saturation or value of the original hues gives us tints (lighter colors) and shades (darker colors).

Jacci Howard Bear
There are more colors that we can see and create than just Red, Green, Blue, Cyan, Yellow, and Magenta. Although the color wheel is often depicted with distinct blocks of color, it is really millions of colors that blend one into another as we move around the wheel.

Each of those individual colors is a hue. Red is a hue. Blue is a hue. Purple is a hue. Teal, Violet, Orange, and Green are all hues.

You can change the appearance of a hue by adding black (shadow) or adding white (light). The value of lightness or darkness and the saturation or amount of the hue gives us our shades and tints.

  • Add varying amounts of black to get shades. Think of the coming darkness and the darkening shadows to remember that a hue plus black equals a shade.


  • Add varying amounts of white to lighten a hue. The light hues are tints. In terms of printing, you use percentages of the ink colors that make up the pure hue such as 80%, 50%, or 10%.

This is just a basic introduction. Play around with saturation, and value to create tints and shades of various hues using this interactive Color Scheme Creator at Colorspire. Or, use the color features in your favorite graphics software to experiment with hue, saturation, and value.

Intensity, lightness, or brightness may be used to refer to the value of a color in some software programs.

Color Basics Index:

  1. Grade School Color Mixing
  2. Additive and Subtractive Primaries (RGB & CMY)
  3. RGB Color in Desktop Publishing
  4. CMY Color in Desktop Publishing
  5. Specifying Colors
  6. Perception of Color
  7. Hues, Tints, Shades, and Saturation (this page)
  8. Common Color Combination Schemes
  9. Fine-tuning Color Combinations

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