We experience color in many ways —
light, dye, ink, paint, synesthesia.
Across these materials and contexts,
we can break down color into three
key properties: hue, chroma and value.
Hue is a color’s
position on the
Analogous colors are any
set of neighboring hues.
Hues near orange are warm,
while cool ones approach blue.
Greens, purples and grays
can vary in temperature.
Chroma is a color’s saturation
or intensity — essentially,
how far it is from gray.
are bright, vivid, pure,
vibrant or intense.
are muted, pale, dull,
faded or dim.
Value is how light
or dark a color is.
These relationships communicate
a mood with much more nuance
than any individual color.
Interesting palettes weave smaller
passages in a rhythmic interplay
between expectation and surprise.
Perfection is boring.
Organizing a palette into a gradient
flattens the diversity of its colors.
A great story can draw you in
by taking an unexpected turn —
while following an overarching
plot that makes sense.
You can build up a palette from smaller
progressions of hue, chroma and value.
Moments of surprise and delight
give the palette a unique voice.
You can also transform the mood by
shifting the balance between colors.
Used in smaller doses, accent colors
guide the eye to key information.
You can strategically shift
hue, chroma and value to pair
colors in expressive ways.
Start with any color.
Tweaking hue, chroma or value
independently will produce a
rich range of neighboring colors.
Shifting two properties together
(hue + chroma, chroma + value,
or value + hue) will extend the
color family into diverse ranges.
Neutral colors play a powerful
role in the character of a palette.
Reducing the chroma of any
swatch will shift it closer to gray.
You can create a tint or shade
by taking a neutral swatch and
adjusting its value.
Tints and shades are essential
if you want to soften contrast.
But they’re too dull to be used
effectively as accent colors.
To accent or deepen a swatch,
keep chroma at the same level
and shift value on its own.
This effect is amplified if you
tweak hue as well, subtly making
the new color warmer or cooler.
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