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 Color Definitions To Learn


Art Tips | Color Definitions


Familiarize yourself with the vocabulary of color so you can communicate easily with other artists to solve color problems.

Achromatic: color perceived to have zero saturation

Basic palette: based on red, yellow, blue, or in the printing world: magenta, yellow cyan primaries

Color scheme: a color scheme is the choice of colors used in design for a range of media. For example, the use of a white background with black text is an example of a basic and commonly default color scheme in web design.

Earth color: is a color scheme that draws from a color palette of browns, tans, grays, greens, oranges, whites, blues and some reds. The colors in an earth tone scheme are muted and flat in an emulation of the natural colors found in dirt, moss, trees and rocks

Fugitive color: are non-permanent pigments - pigments that lighten in what is understood, said or defined to be a relatively short time when exposed to light.

Granulation: sedimentary or settling characteristic of pigment

Hue: is one of the main properties of a color described with names such as "red", "yellow", etc.

Intensity: Colorfulness is the difference between a color against gray.

Juxtapose: place colors side by side for contrast

Key: high key: light-to-middle values; low key: middle-to-dark values; full contrast: complete value range from light to dark


Local color: actual color of an object

Movement: an energetic direction created by design relationship of components using the same visual space; also an energy created by thickness of paint and a brush stroke that has a defined beginning and end.

Medium: For watercolor or acrylic paints: a typical medium is water. For oil paints there are a variety of mediums available, but traditionally linseed oil is the medium.

Neutral: colors toned down with gray, white or black. Neutrals can either be warm or cool dependant upon the introduction of either yellow or blue.

Opacity: is dependant upon the amount of medium mixed with paint. 

Primary colors: colors that can't be mixed—true red, yellow, blue.

Paint Quality: Generally this has to do with the fineness of ground pigment and the lack of additives mixed into the paint.

Tertiary color: color made by mixing one primary color with the color adjacent to it, such as red and blue


Temperature: the warmth or coolness of a color (red-orange is warmest, blue-green is coolest)

Unity: Unity is defined as the state of the work of art where there is a completeness, to the design.

Value: The darkness or lightness of a color

Color Wheel:  an abstract illustrative organization of color hues around a circle, showing relationships between colors considered to be primary colors, secondary colors, complementary colors, etc. Yellow--the top of the color wheel--(the lightest value and highest intensity color)


Art of the Tarot

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