Colour is a subject that fascinates many of you. And I know I’ve written some posts on it before such as this one on understanding colour properties, but here is a picture I’ve put together to help try and explain the basics of tint, tone and shade.
Colour Terminology Basics
The value of a colour just means how light or dark it is. Think about it being like this on a continuum from light to dark:
Discover more about your value and value contrast here.
Tints are lighter colours that have white added. The more white added the more milky and soft it becomes, as well as getting lighter and lighter.
Tones can be light, medium or deep in value, they are a colour that has been changed by adding grey. You can soften a colour down by adding a little grey, it won’t look grey, but just not as bright. You can add more and more grey to a colour to it becomes smoky and dull, and eventually, you will identify the colour as grey first, then with a hint of the original colour such as a bluey-grey or green-grey etc.
Shades are deep or dark colours. If they are medium deep they will retain brightness, in the way that colours that are tinted a bit, but not too much also can appear quite bright.
More on tints, tones and shades here.
Overtone means the warmth or coolness as associated with warm or cool things. So blues and greens are seen as cool because we associate them with cool water and forests etc. red, orange and yellow have warm overtones as we associate them with the sun, fire and heat.
Undertone refers to how the colour has been created and whether or not it has a warm (usually yellow) or cool (usually blue) base when the pigments creating the colour are mixed. You can check out these posts on identifying undertones.