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Basics Of Color

Painting is the articulation of imagination in lines and colors. Thus, it is important to know the basic characteristics of colors, i.e. hue, value, intensity and temperature. Hues are either chromatic (having color) or achromatic (colorless neutrals). Values are used traditionally in a range from white to black, but high-key or low-key value leads to expressive color. Intensity (purity or grayness) contributes, along with value, to the effect of light in paintings. Color temperature creates mood and spatial effect; for example, cool means far and warm means near.

The coloring matter of paints is known as pigments. They have different characteristics, such as transparency or opacity, intensity, tinting strength, staining, spreading and granulating qualities. Paints are selected in a manner that takes the maximum advantage of each pigment's characteristics.

Some common terminology related to colors:

Primary colors--colors that can't be mixed--red, yellow blue, magenta, cyan Wheel--circular arrangement of colors used in color theory and selection.

Achromatic--lacking color, neutral; gray, white or black.

Basic palette--based on red, yellow, blue or magenta, yellow cyan primaries. Color scheme--a logical relationship of colors on the color wheel

Dominance--having larger color area or brighter color for emphasis

Earth color--low intensity color created from natural earths or synthetic equivalents

Fugitive color--color that fades or changes over a short period of time

Granulation--sedimentary or settling characteristic of pigment

Hue--the name of a color

Intensity--purity or brightness of a color; also called chroma or saturation

Juxtaposition--placing colors side by side for contrast

Key-- high key: light-to-middle values; low key: middle-to-dark values

full contrast-- complete value range from light to dark

Local color--actual color of an object

Neutral--gray, white or black

Opacity--covering power of pigment

Reflected color--colored light that bounces from a surface and falls on a surface nearby

Temperature--the warmth or coolness of a color

Value--light to dark range of a color

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