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The Language of Colour Part 2

Good Morning,

What a beautiful sunny day at last. I hope you had a great bank holiday weekend out and about or at home.

This week's blog is a second instalment on the language of colour. 

It explains terms that are used frequently in Art & Design.

Have a great week.

Amina & Murphy xx

Tertiary Colours

A tertiary colour is made by mixing an equal quantity of a primary colour with the secondary colour next to it on the colour wheel.

If you combine red with its neighbour to the right- orange- you get red-orange; if you combine red with its neighbour to the left -violet- you get red-violet.

By adjusting the proportions of the primary and secondary colours, you can create a wide range of subtle colours.

Further intermediate colours can be made by repeatedly mixing each neighbouring pair until you have an almost continuous transition of colour.


Hue is another word for colour, and refers to the generalized colour of an object. The word is used when describing close or similar colours: cadmium red, alizarin crimson & vermillion, all reds, are close in hue.


Tone or value refers to the relative lightness or darkness of a colour. Some colours are by nature lighter in tones than others; compare lemon yellow with burnt umber.

Tints & Shades

When white is added to a colour to lighten it, the resultant mix is referred to as a tint of that colour. Shades are darker tones of a colour, achieved by adding black.

Using Complementaries

The colours opposite one another on the wheel are contrasting partners. There are 3 pairs each consisting of one primary colour & a secondary. Red is complementary of green, blue of orange & yellow of violet. 


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