Notebook, 1993-



Complexion, Aspect, Gradation, Attribute, Intermediate Mixture . . . . esp. of Color

The name of a colour or the attribute by virtue of which it is red, green, blue, etc. The spectrum is conventionally divided into six basic hues--red, yellow, and blue (three primary colours) and green, orange, and violet (the secondary colours, made by mixing the primary colours). In normal parlance the word 'hue' tends to be used so loosely that it is no more than a synonym for colour. [Chilvers, Ian, Harold Osborne, and Dennis Farr, eds. Oxford Dictionary Of Art. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.]

Hue. The term hue is often confused with color, but there is a distinction: variations of a single hue produce different colors. For instance, a red hue can be light red, dark red, dull or brilliant red, which are color variations within the same hue.

Nature does not provide us with the pigments to describe every hue in the spectrum; pigments that are now available are the products of human efforts throughout many centuries. We therefore have to choose pigments that closely match the standard hues.

It is common knowledge today that red, yellow, and blue can be intermixed to obtain almost any hue. Mixtures, however, weaken chroma, because of inaccurate hue expression, or the physical properties of the pigments, which come from plants, minerals, animal remains, or chemical compounds.

Regardless of these limitations, red, yellow, and blue are the three primary hues, and orange [a mixture of red and yellow], green [a mixture of yellow and blue], and purple [a mixture of blue and red] are the secondary hues. These constitute the six basic hues, which can be arranged in a circle.

[Wong, Wucius. Principles of Color Design. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. 1987. p. 43]

Each chromatic color can be described in three ways. Hue is the attribute that permits colors to be classed as red, yellow, blue, and so on. The description of a hue can be more precise by identifying the color's actual inclination from one hue to the next. For instance, a particular red may be more accurately called orange-red. Different color systems use different codes to describe colors made up of letters, numbers, or a combination of the two.

Value refers to the degree of lightness or darkness in any color. A color of known hue can be more Accurately described by calling it either light or dark. For instance, a red is said to be light red if it is lighter than our notion of a standard red.

Chroma indicates the intensity or purity of a color. Colors with strong chroma are the most brilliant, most vivid colors that can be obtained. Colors with weak chroma are dull; they contain a large proportion of gray.

[Wong, Wucius. Principles of Color Design. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. 1987. p. 33]

Hue Gradations with Maintenance of Chroma. To effect gradations in hue, we should choose a hue [either one of the six basic hues or their intermediates] as a starting point and another as a terminating point on the color circle. In order to maintain strong chroma throughout the transitions, the two hues are not mixed directly, but each is mixed with an adjacent hue gradually approaching the other on the color circle.

It is simplest to begin with a primary and move to another primary hue. This can be done with the two primaries alone, or with all available pigments that represent the intermediate hues. For instance, we can proceed from cadmium red to cadmium orange with cadmium yellow deep and then cadmium yellow pale. If only red and yellow pigments are used, the mixtures will weaken chroma slightly.

It is more difficult to start with a secondary hue and arrive at another secondary hue. To proceed from purple to orange via red, for instance, it is necessary to use two red pigments: a cool red, such as magenta or rose, is mixed with purple; and a warmer red, such as flame red or vermilion, is mixed with orange. Mixing the cooler with the warmer reds produces an intermediate color. Similarly, when moving from orange to green via yellow, a cool yellow, such as lemon, and a warmer yellow, such as cadmium yellow pale, may be necessary. A cool blue, such as cerulean blue, and a warmer blue, such as ultramarine blue, should be considered when moving from green to purple via blue.

Many pigments are needed to effect hue gradations and maintain chroma [see Part III for a recommended list of pigments]. It is most important to acquire pigments with the strongest possible chroma, and if the pigment is a primary hue, it is necessary to determine which adjacent [secondary] hue the pigment most resembles. It is best to compare several pigments of the same hue and experiment with mixtures that produce different results.

[Wong, Wucius. Principles of Color Design. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. 1987. p. 45]

Hue Gradations with Chroma Changes. Knowing the positions of hues on the color circle, and mixing these appropriately with all intermediate steps, results in hue gradations with full chroma. Chroma might also be intentionally weakened [to introduce contrast of chroma] by mixing any two secondary hues, or by mixing a primary hue with the secondary hue that is opposite it on the color circle--the two hues neutralize each other and become almost gray.

Another way to weaken chroma is to mix a primary hue with one adjacent [secondary] hue. For instance, a purple biased blue mixed with green produces a much duller blue-green than would result from mixing a green-biased blue with green.

[Wong, Wucius. Principles of Color Design. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. 1987. p. 47]

Hue Harmony. The color circle can be used as the basis for creating hue harmony. The simplest color scheme that can be created using analogous hues is monochromatic, restricted to one hue. Alternatively, analogous hues can be taken from a portion of the color circle, say, the colors contained within 60 to 90 degrees, and can be randomly juxtaposed or used in gradation within a design.

Analogous hues also result from a common hue bias--a tiny quantity of a particular hue is mixed into each color, sometimes changing its hue, value, and/or chroma in the process. For instance, orange-yellow can be mixed with all colors, creating an overall orange-yellow cast--a tropical color scheme.

Hues contrast significantly when they are separated by 90 degrees or more on the color circle. The wider the distance between the hues on the circle, the greater the hue contrast.

Both analogy and contrast are present in a color scheme if hue gradations cover a large portion of the color circle.

[Wong, Wucius. Principles of Color Design. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. 1987. p. 51]

Hue. Refers to the generic color identification of a substance; for example, one speaks of a thing as being red, or green, or bluish-gray in hue.

[Mayer, Ralph. The Painter's Craft. An Introduction to Artist's Methods and Materials. Revised and updated by Steven Sheehan, Director of the Ralph Mayer Center, Yale University School of Art. New York: Penquin Group. 1948. 1991. p. 29]

R  E  F  E  R  E  N  C  E  S 
Hue n [ME hewe, fr. OE hiw; akin to ON hy plant down. Goth hiwi form] [bef. 12c. 1: Complexion, Aspect [political parties of every __ -Louis Wasserman] 2a: Color b: gradation of color c: the attribute of colors that permits them to be classed as red, yellow, green, blue, or an intermediate between any contiquous pair of these colors -compare Brightness 2, Lightness 2, Saturation 4

Lightness 2: the attribute of object colors by which the object appears to reflect or transmit more or less of the incident light

Saturation 4a: chromatic purity: freedom from dilution with white b [1]: degree of difference from the gray having the same lightness -used of an object color [2]: degree of difference from the achromatic light-source color of the same brightness -used of a light-source color.

[Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition. Springfield, MA, USA: Merriam-Webster, Inc. 1995.]



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