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Paint Color Terms & Definitions
Additive Colors: This is the color of light added to color; combining all the colors together creates white light.
Color Clashes: Color clashes, or discords, describes when two colors of equal intensity causes visual discomfort.
Color Family: All colors are organized into groups, or families; and there are 6 basic color families which include red, blue, yellow, green, purple and orange.
Color Harmony: A color harmony, or color scheme, is a combination of colors with no harsh contrasts, allowing the eye to transition smoothly between them.
Color Wheel: The 12 colors of the spectrum in a circle and is arranged on a paint color wheel.
Complementary Colors: Complementary colors are colors opposite of each other on the color wheel (red and green, blue and orange, yellow and purple).
Complex Colors: Referring to tertiary and quaternary colors, complex colors are less vibrant, moodier, and subtler than concentrated hues.
Cool Colors: From the color wheel, the colors ranging from green through blue to violet are called referenced as cool colors; having short light waves that make them appear farther from you than they really are.
Hue: Hue is the quality which distinguishes one color from another. Each section of the color wheel is a hue and is grouped with the color family.
Intensity: In regards to color terminology, it describes how much pigment there is in the paint – the more pigment there is, the stronger and less diluted/grayed the color will be or the strength/brightness or weakness/dullness of a color.
Intermediate Colors: Mixing a primary color with an adjacent secondary color creates an intermediate color. If you mix, blue, a primary color, and the adjacent violet, a secondary, combine to it produces blue-violet, an intermediate.
Mass Tones: A mass tone, or base color, disregards any of the existing undertones and refers to the predominant hue a person sees when observing any color. The mass tone of olive green is green for example.
Monochromatic Colors: A monochromatic, or dominant paint color palette, is when one color is used throughout its shades, tints, intensities and values.
Neutralizing: In order to decrease a color’s intensity, one has to do so by mixing it with black, gray, an equivalent native color, or its complement in order to neutralize it.
Primary Colors: Primary pigment colors cannot be made and are the basic colors. There are 3 pigment primary colors; red, blue and yellow.
Related Colors: The adjoining colors with one another on the color wheel.
Secondary Colors: A secondary color is a color that results from the mixing of equal amounts of two primaries. There are 3 secondary colors; orange combining red and yellow; green created withblue and yellow; and violet produced by mixing red and blue.
Shade: To produce shade, add black to a color.
Spectrum: When white light, sunlight or daylight passes through a prism, its wavelengths bend, break and separate into a rainbow-like band or a spectrum. The band includes all the true colors – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet, appearing always in this order. Each color flows out of and into the colors on either side of it until 12 colors are clearly visible, which are all present on the color wheel.
Tertiary Colors: Mixing 2 secondary colors creates tertiary colors.
Tint: Tint is the addition of white to a color.
Tone: Tone is created by adding gray to a color, along with mixing 2 complementary colors in specific amounts.
Undertone: Where a hint of a different color is present, a color’s undertone is a color-behind-the-color.
Value /Reflective Value/LRV: Value is the relative lightness or darkness of a color.
Warm Colors: Warm colors have long light waves that advance toward you, making them seem closer than they actually are. These colors range from red through orange to yellow on the color wheel are considered warm.
Weight: Weight of a color is also referenced to the strength of it. Lighter colors visually appear smaller/lighter in weight than darker colors.