How to Mix Color: Color Characteristics

Color and It’s Multiple Personalities

  Color is has three very distinct personalities or characteristics. This is why color has so much complexity however by understanding these aspects of color and how to identify them you can better understand the colors you are seeing. Understanding is more than half the battle in the world of color mixing. The three aspects of color are hue, value and chroma. With the exception of black and white every color has these three aspects. So let’s shed a little light on what these things mean.



Hue is what family the color is apart. Is the color red, yellow, blue, green, violet, or orange, whether a color is dark or light, dull or bright every color will belong to one of these 6 color families. Practice viewing color and describing in which family of color it belongs.


Chroma or Intensity is the second attribute of color. It is how bright or dull a color appears. Colors can be quiets grays or loud vibrant and colorful. All these variations of a color’s chroma or intensity makeit a very expressive aspect of color.


Value is the last and the most important aspect of color. If you get you values right in a painting you can do all kinds of things with chroma or hue and still create a very convincing painting. A great example of this would be the work of California Impressionists such as William Wendt.

The combination of these three aspects are contained in the millions of colors we find in the world around us. Understanding hue, chroma and intensity will help you to accurately identify color.

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