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Theory of the Color Wheel

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Warm and Cool Colors & Tints, Shades and Tones
Theory of the Color Wheel
© Dixie Allan

With colors you can make a statement, set the mood, attract attention or even arouse anger. Color can be used to energize or to cool down. Using the right color scheme, you can create an ambiance of elegance, warmth or tranquility. Color can be your most powerful design element and by studying this 4-part series on Color theory you will learn to use it effectively.

Warm and cool colors
The color circle can be divided into warm and cool colors. Warm colors are vivid and energetic, and tend to advance or move forward in space. Cool colors give an impression of calm, and create a soothing impression. White, black and gray are considered to be neutral.

Tints, Shades, and Tones
These terms are often used incorrectly, although they describe fairly simple color concepts. If a color is made lighter by adding white, the result is called a tint. If black is added, the darker version is called a shade. And if gray is added, the result is a tone.

Tints - adding white to a any pure hue. Tints create a soft look and a soothing feeling.
Shades - adding black to a any pure hue. Shades create a deep look and a mysterious and powerful feeling.
Tones - adding both white and black to any hue. Tones are pleasing to the eye, are sophisticated and create a feeling of calmness.

This has been "Color Theory in a Nutshell." You could spend hours and hours studying color and color theory but hopefully this gives you helpful information in simply terms.

To learn about the meanings of color, read Color - What Do The Individual Colors Mean?

To learn about color symbology, read Color Symbology.

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