Art and Music Lessons

Tints and Shades

In our "Primary and Secondary Colors" lesson, we talked about how primary colors are mixed to make secondary colors. Primary colors become the basis for making all the colors in an artist's color palette. However, we failed to mention black and white, which are used to tint or shade colors.

Black, White and Shades of Gray

White is often referred to as a tint and black as a shade because of their use to lighten (tint) or darken (shade) colors. The following illustration is used to show how varying degrees of white and black can be mixed to make different shades of gray. A greater degree of black in the mixture results in a darker gray, while a greater degree of white results in a lighter gray. Equal amounts of white and black form a gray that is neutral.

Black, White and Shades of Gray

Tinting and Shading Colors

In the same way that we can use white to lighten black, or black to darken white, producing different shades of gray, adding white or black to a color can respectively lighten or darken the color. For instance, red can be tinted with white to make shades of pink and darker reds can be achieved by tinting red with black.

Tints and Shades of Red

As you can see, adding tints and shades to colors can significantly increase the variety of colors available in an artist's palette. Spend time blending tints and shades into your favorite mixable colors and see what they can do to make your work come alive.

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