What are tint, shade and tone? Explain tint, shade and tone with example.

Color Shade

Answer: In color theory, a tint is the mixture of a color with white, which increases lightness, and a shade is the mixture of a color with black, which reduces lightness. A tone is produced either by mixing with gray, or by both tinting and shading. Mixing a color with any neutral color, including black and white, reduces the chroma, or colorfulness, while the hue remains unchanged.

It is important to point out that in common language; the term “shade” can be generalized to furthermore encompass any varieties of a particular color, whether technically they are shades, tints, tones, or slightly different hues.

When mixing colored light (additive color models), the achromatic mixture of spectrally balanced red, green and blue (RGB) is always white, not gray or black. When we mix colorants, such as the pigments in paint mixtures, a color is produced which is always darker and lower in chroma, or saturation, than the parent colors. This moves the mixed color toward a neutral color—a gray or near-black. Lights are made brighter or dimmer by adjusting their brightness, or energy level; in painting, lightness is adjusted through mixture with white, black or a color’s complement.

Color Hue or Tone

It is common among some artistic painters to darken a paint color by adding black paint—producing colors called shades—or to lighten a color by adding white—producing colors called tints. However, this is not always the best way for representational painting, since an unfortunate result is for colors to also shift in their hues. For instance, darkening a color by adding black can cause colors such as yellows, reds and oranges, to shift toward the greenish or bluish part of the spectrum. Lightening a color by adding white can cause a shift towards blue [clarification needed] when mixed with reds and oranges. Another practice when darkening a color is to use its opposite, or complementary, color (e.g. violet-purple added to yellowish-green) in order to neutralize it without a shift in hue, and darken it if the additive color is darker than the parent color. When lightening a color this hue shift can be corrected with the addition of a small amount of an adjacent color to bring the hue of the mixture back in line with the parent color (e.g. adding a small amount of orange to a mixture of red and white will correct the tendency of this mixture to shift slightly towards the blue end of the spectrum).




Every individual color on the Basic Color Wheel can be altered in three ways by Tinting, Shading or Toning. And that’s before we even think about mixing two colors together.

Let’s start with lightening the twelve basic colors to create Tints.

A Tint is sometimes called a Pastel. Basically it’s simply any color with white added.

If you want to get a little more complicated, you can mix any of the twelve pure colors together. Then simply add any amount of white and you have created a pastel or tint of the mixture.

That means you can go from an extremely pale, nearly white to a barely tinted pure hue. Artists often add a tiny touch of white to a pure pigment to give the color some body. So for example a bright Red can quickly become a bright Pink.

A color scheme using Tints is usually soft, youthful and soothing, especially the lighter versions. All tints work well in in feminine environments. You often see advertising, marketing and websites use pale and hot pastels if they are targeting women as a demographic. In painting you might save my lightest pastels for the focal point or use pastels for the entire painting.

Color Shade Tint Tone


So now that you know how to lighten, what’s the easiest way to make your colors darker?

A Shade is simply any color with black added.

Just as with making tints, you can mix any of the twelve pure colors together. Then simply add any amount of black and you have created a shade of the mixture.

That means you can go from an extremely dark, nearly black to a barely shaded pure hue.

Most artists use black sparingly because it can quickly destroy my main color. Some artists prefer not to use it at all. Instead they understand the rules of color well enough to make their own black mixtures.

Shades are deep, powerful and mysterious. Be careful not to use too much black as it can get a little overpowering. These darks work well in a masculine environment. They are best used as dark accents in art and marketing graphics.


Now that you understand how to lighten and darken your twelve colors how do you tone them down?

Almost every color we see in our day-to-day world has been toned either a little or a lot. This makes for more appealing color combinations.

A Tone is created by adding both White and Black which is grey. Any color that is “grayed down” is considered a Tone.

Tones are somehow more pleasing to the eye. They are more complex, subtle and sophisticated.

Artists usually mix a little grey in every paint mixture to adjust the value and intensity of their pigment. Tones are the best choice for most interior decorating because they’re more interesting. They work well in any Color Scheme you might plan.

So, we can say in conclusion:

Hue: A “hue” is the color itself – so green, blue, red, purple, etc.

Tint: A “tint” is when *white* is added to a hue, making that hue lighter.

Shade: A “shade” is when you instead add *black* to a hue, making it darker.

Tone: A tone is created when *grey* is added to a hue.

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