Monday, May 27, 2013

Value/ Tone/ Chroma - Choosing your own color palettes

When I was blogging about finding a color combination I mentioned I wanted a different value of the color orange.   At first I had blogged “tone” – and later when I went to edit the post I realized I meant value.   Talking about tone and value can get very confusing….even to an artist and among artists. 

Let’s see if we can shine a little light on this subject:
According to Faber Birren in his book Principles of Color, and according to most accepted color theory:

Value -- the range of light and dark within either neutrals or colors. Black is at one extreme, white at the other.

Tone -- a color mixture that is not pure color hue (such as the highest chroma for a given color), and not black and not white. This mixture is an intermediate (can also be blend of hues - colors). In other words, if you were to take a pure color and add grey, you would have Tone.  And of course, many tones can be made with complementary colors instead of black and white, resulting in the same outcome.

These two terms are quite a bit different, and really have little in common, other than Tone could range up and down on the value scale for a specific Hue."
So long as a Hue is mixed only with white or black, it stays a pure tint or shade (making it a different value of the pure hue – lighter or darker).  Once another color or grey is introduced, it becomes a Tone.
This is a quick example of the concept of Tone, as set forth by Faber Birren.

"Cadmium Red Medium as the "Color" (I wish he had used the term "Hue").
At top right is White, and lower right is Black. The range from Black to White is Value, or a “value scale”. This range reflects the grays between the two extremes of value (B&W).

The range from White to Red (in this case -- you can substitute any pure Hue - color) are the Tints.

The range from Black to Red represents the Shades.

The entire central area (the inner triangle) is partially represented as the range of possible Tones, and each has a particular number for its position (not shown here). The range of tones represents all possible variations between the three corners of Red, White and Black."

I hope that helps illustrate Birren's concept a little better.  What I wanted when I was looking for a creamsicle glass was the color (hue) orange at its highest chroma diluted only with white to give me a color that was light in value and would “pop” because I followed the concepts of a color wheel AND yet show up on the colors that were either a dark value or tone.
These principals work in all areas of art despite the medium and design of the art piece.  I always think about this – especially when I am picking out a color combination I might not have worked with before.  If you want someone to notice your work all the great design in the world won’t work if you use the wrong values or tones.  You will wonder why your piece is kind of blah and someone else’s is selling then look at your color choices.  You don’t necessarily need to buy someone’s tutorial on their “color palettes” you can make up your own too.
Most of the color theory information (within the quotes) was transferred from Internet reference sites.

These thick stringers were made with some of the oranges I was trying to alter into that elusive creamsicle color.  It was after I went back to my old color theory training that I fully realized what I had done wrong.  The rods of glass I chose to add white to were already "tones" of oranges.  They had all been altered with either a gray or gray+hue to create the color so adding white was unlikely to get me the results I wanted.  I got pretty results none the less - but they're also going to be a glass that is going to need special treatment in the flame.  This is how two of those stringers were used.
They struck alright, made a very nice light coral color but incredibly hard to control in the flame.


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