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January 4, 2018

Color Space for Painters

Color Space for Painters
Color Space is defined as a specific organization of colors, and many different models depend on whether you are working with digital images, photography, or paint.

For painters, when it comes to color mixing, we use the color wheel, but we think of it as a three-dimensional version of the wheel.

Let's walk through the color model that we call color space.

Hue

Hue

"Hue" is the name of a color or family, i.e., red, orange, yellow, green, blue, or violet. Colors families have a relationship as they go around the color wheel clockwise, always in the same order.

When mixing colors on a palette, changes in hue on the color wheel happen clockwise & counterclockwise.

Temperature describes the warmness or coolness, or color relative to another hue. It also goes clockwise or counterclockwise or can happen within a single hue family.

Intensity

Intensity
Or "Chroma" is used to describe the brightness or dullness of a color.

Don't confuse brightness with lightness. Brightness is the intensity or purity of a color.

High intensity or high chroma colors make up the very outer perimeter of the color wheel.

Mixing color opposites or complements will neutralize any color until it becomes grey.

If we turn the color wheel horizontally like a pancake. It would look something like this.

Hue & Intensity
The last dimension in color space is color property or characteristic of 'value.'

Value

Value describes the "lightness" or "darkness" of a color. Changes in weight (from light to dark, from dark to light) occur vertically within color space, with lighter colors toward the top of color space and darker colors towards the bottom.

Hue, Intensity & Value
And if we took a slice of the three-dimensional color space model. It would look something like this. Yellow at the top is the naturally lightest color at full intensity, and blue is the darkest at full intensity.

The Natural Values of Colors

The best way to learn color space is to practice & experiment on your own. However, visit Navigating Color Space by Rober Gamblin if you would like to watch a video that walks you through this three-dimensional model with a computer-aided design (CAD) model.

"The student in color mixing is advised to put himself through a regular course of experiment or study so that he may ascertain the peculiar hue or tone of each of the principal stainers in constant use and also become acquainted with the effect produced by mixing white or other colors."

--Author-Jennings, 1906.