Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tints, Shades & Tones

Does This Color Match?

How many times do you hear “I want this shade of color” or “I like this shade but darker or lighter”?

Tints, shades and tones are fairly simple color terms; however they are often used incorrectly. Just listen to the countless, misused color terms you’ll hear in TV commercials promoting cosmetics, paint, clothing and cars. It’s no wonder they’re used incorrectly.

So what’s the big deal about using the right color terms? Here’s why! If you’re attempting to communicate with someone who's creating a particular color, you need to speak the same language. So I’m here to set it straight.

If a color is made lighter by adding white, the result is called a tint. If black is added, the darker version is called a shade. And if gray is added, the result is called a tone.

Another term that is misused is when looking at a certain color and asking… “I want another shade” which they think means a different hue of a color like a blue compared to a blue green. Another shade would be a darker version of a color as a shade is a color plus black or minus black. Here’s another commonly misused color phrase that you’ll hear when someone’s attempting to coordinate fabrics....“does this match?” The majority of the times they really mean.... “do these colors coordinate?” To use the word “match” indicates that they are the same exact color.




COLOR TURNERS helps businesses and manufacturers make the best decisions where color choices are critical. We provide accurate and tangible ways to significantly reduce your business and manufacturing risks and turn your knowledge into increased sales and customer satisfaction. 


  1. Great post Denise. Very simple and concise and also a common issue when working with a client...Now if I can just remember them when I need to explain them!

  2. Great bite size advice. My clients always get a little jazzed when they start using the correct language in color and feel empowered.

  3. Yes, Ive noticed that about nobody using term correctly, bugs me too!

  4. Thank you for this wonderful refresher! I love the visual example, too. Now I must review my blog and make sure I've noted it all correctly over the past few years!


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