How to Use TINTS, SHADES & TONES When Creating

BLACK & WHITE are very important components to understanding and implementing color theory.

Without them, colors would be completely saturated without variation of lights and darks. Depth and highlights would be difficult to create within the limitations of saturated color. Supporting colors would be difficult to create. Every color would be even and there could not be a stand out “star”.

Given their importance, let’s figure out how to use BLACK & WHITE to our advantage.

To begin, TINTS are created when WHITE is added to a color. Adding WHITE makes the color lighter. For beginners, this can be a great way to implement highlights in your creation.

In contrast, SHADES are created when BLACK is added to a color. Adding BLACK makes the color darker. For beginners, this can be a great way to implement shadows.

And finally, TONES are created when GREY is added to a color. Adding GREY takes away the color saturation and can be considered more pleasing to the eye. But once you add GREY you will not be able to bring back the brightness, so approach this with caution at first.

Sometimes, the difference is difficult to see. Let’s put all these next to each other so you can really see the difference. The TINTS look pastel, the SHADES look dark yet saturation and the TONES look grey.

As has been discussed throughout this color series, greys can be created by mixing BLACK & WHITE together but also by mixing complementary colors together.

Using these types of GREYS will take your creation up a notch, as it will introduce warm/cool tones depending on the bias of the GREYS. (see my blog post What is Color Temperature and Why Is It So Important.)

TINTS, SHADES and TONES is how you make the supporting colors in any creation. These “supporting” colors  help your “star”colors stand out. Without them, your creation will look dull and flat. Utilizing TINTS, SHADES and TONES will make your colors come alive.

And this, my friends, seems to be the last puzzle piece of my color theory blog series. Back when I started this series with Just RED, I felt I had opened up a pandora’s box.

I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. 9 colors, 37 blog posts, 9 color schemes 6 ways, 202 graphics designed, 31 pdfs, 728 pins later and 1 awesome workbook! Now, I feel I can finally close the lid.

I don’t know about you, but by examining one color at a time, I have clarified all the overwhelming color theories in my brain.

The only thing left to do is to take these theories and get creating with them. I hope you take the opportunity to download my workbook to help you as you start implementing everything you have learned.

And be sure to let me know how this series has helped you. I would love to hear your thoughts & comments. I really hope this has helped you as much as it has helped me!

Stay tuned for upcoming blog series based on design principles. I can’t wait to tackle the Fibonacci sequence next. It’s going to be so fascinating.

Happy creating!!

PS. Here’s the other blog posts for Just WHITE, BLACK & GREY.

PPS. And here’s the rest of the colors in this blog series. Enjoy!