A quality we can find in
Something that helps us
understand what we are
Colour gives us
about the object we are
Colour as physic and visual
There are 3 factors that
allow us to perceive
Sir Isaac Newton was one of the first scientists to
investigate colour theory. Around 1671-72 he
discovered the origin of colour when he shone a beam
of light through an angular prism and split it into
the spectrum - the various colors of the rainbow.
SIR ISAAC NEWTON (1643-1727)
The refraction of light through a glass prism.
This simple experiment demonstrates that colour comes from light - in
fact, that color is light. Scientists investigate the properties of
color theory whereas artists explore its visual effects.
Additive colours involve
the mixing of coloured
The colours of a TV
screen are a good
example of this.
Additive primary colours
are red, green and blue.
colours are magenta,
cyan and yellow.
Subtractive colours involve
the mixing of coloured
paints, pigments, inks
The traditional subtractive
primary colours are:
magenta, cyan blue and
colours are: red, blue and
The spectrum is the colours of the rainbow
arranged in their natural order: Red - Orange Yellow - Green - Blue - Indigo - Violet.
Colour Qualities: hues
Hue is one of the main
properties of any colour.
It is the name of every
Usually, colours with the
same hue are
adjectives referring to
their brightness or
darkness: “light blue”,
“pastel blue”, “dark
Colour Qualities: Hues
Hues have a circular order as illustrated in the color
wheel above. The color wheel is a useful device to help
us explain the relationships between Primary, Secondary
and Tertiary colors.
Red, Yellow and Blue are primary colours. These are
the three basic colours that are used to mix all hues.
Orange, Green and Purple are secondary colours.
They are achieved by mixing two primary colours.
Tertiary coulors are more subtle hues which are achieved
by mixing a primary and a secondary colour that are
adjacent on the color wheel.
Analogous colours are placed next to one another on the
color wheel. These colors are in harmony with one
Opposite and complementary
Opposite colours are diagonally opposite one another on the color
wheel. Opposite colours create the maximum contrast with one
another. You can work out the opposite colour to any primary
colour by taking the other two primaries and mixing them together.
The result will be its opposite or complementary color.
Colour tints and shades
A tint describes a colour that is mixed with
A shade describes a colour that is mixed with
Colour Qualities: Value
When we describe a colour as light or dark, we are
discussing its value or brightness.
This property of colour tells us how light or dark a
colour is based on how close it is to white.
Using values, we can find magenta colour as very light
magenta, light magenta, dark magenta or very dark
Colour Qualities: Saturation
Colour saturation is used to describe the intensity of the
colour in an image.
It defines a range from pure colour (100%) to grey
A pure colour is fully saturated. It means that its
mixture contains only a unique colour.
The purest colours are the subtractive primary colours
(yellow, magenta and cyan blue). Secondary colours
(green, red and blue) are less saturated because they
contain two colours in their mixture.
Colours are often
associated with moods.
Certain colours look
cold, such as blue,
green or violet. They
are called Cool or Cold
Other colours look
warm, like red, orange
and yellow. They are
called Warm Colours.
Warm and intense colours
appear to advance
towards the viewer.
Cold and dull colours
appear to reced.
It is the balanced
two or more colours.
Colours which are
close in the colour
wheel create Colour
Claude Monet, Water lillies
It is the optical effect
produced by two
We can also create
contrast using light and
Van Gogh, Sunflowers
Itten’s Colour Wheel
Johannes Itten (1888-1967)
was a Swiss painter and
teacher who studied the
He drew a colour wheel
which included primary,
secondary and tertiary
colours, and also value
and brightness scales
Hickethier’s Colour Cube
Alfred Hickethier (19031967) was a German
painter who classified
colour hues using a
numeric system. It
allowed the identification
of any hue.
He also built a cube which
contained 96 hues.
1. Hickethier’s cube
We are going to build and colour a simple Hickethier’s
cube using a template.