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What Is Color? : Page 6

Color is the byproduct of the spectrum of light, as it is reflected or absorbed, as received by the human eye and processed by the human brain.


Hue is what most people think of when we say "color."

Hue is the name of a distinct color of the spectrum—red, green, yellow, orange, blue, and so on. It is the particular wavelength frequency.

   This strip shows a range of hues. It is easy to point to "red" or "blue" or "yellow."

Saturation is the "purity" of the color.

Saturation refers to the amount of white light (or gray paint) mixed with the hue. Pastels are less saturated colors. Both of these samples below have a hue we would call "blue" but their saturation is different.

Fully saturated colors are very rich and bright. 100% blue is a very saturated color
Less saturated colors look muddier, or less pure. steelblue has gray undertones


High Saturated Colors
As saturation decreases, all colors become a value of gray. You can experience reduced saturation by setting your monitor to gray-scale. Since some pure hues are darker that others, the resulting desaturated grays will also be darker -- for example, compare the blue with the yellow in this chart.
Low Saturation Colors

Value (Intensity, Lightness, Brightness)
The value (sometimes called lightness or intensity or brightness) of a color is the amount of light or white it contains.

Value refers to the intensity of light present. When light is at its fullest intensity, colors will become bright, at its least intensity, colors become dim. Unlike saturation, there isn't necessarily "less" of the color -- it is just not as intense. You might think of value as being a bit like the dimmer switch on your dining room light or the brightness knob on your computer's monitor. Turn up the switch, and the value grows brighter.

   A higher value creates a whiter, brighter color.

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