LEAP!Tracy HolmesComment

The big bold Colour Side may be what draws you in, but in BTC, there's a whole new language of letters, numbers, squares, and sliders waiting to be discovered and deciphered. Break on through to the other side . . .



When describing a colour, the most prevalent property we talk about is Hue, the colour itself. But most colours aren't purely Hue; they are one colour influenced by another colour, or a colour lightened by White or darkened by Black, or a colour muted by some neutralizing combination of both. These interloping ingredients are what turn our basic 'colour wheel' colours into more complex Tints, Shades, and Tones, adding the properties of Value and Saturation to our scope of analysis.

The 'Code Side' of every BTC Colour Card explores all 3 of these properties in depth, with an original trio of infographics: the Hue Matrix, the Saturation Summary, and the Value Slider. Every colour and code is different, so the specific content varies on each card, but the format itself is basically the same throughout the entire collection. Each of these infographics' details will be further explored with examples in the next few 'Leap' lessons. For now, to provide an overview, we'll look at one 'Key Card' from each deck. 

Here's a breakdown of what you'll find on the Code Side, beginning with the 'four-one-one' on BTC's 411...


In the top left corner of the BTC Code Side, the Colour Code is shown vertically with its quantities of Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow, in that order. In the top right corner is a small Corner Cube and the initial of the Colour Corner family name. This can be used as a handy reference when multiple cards are held in the hand or staggered in a stack, similar to how a number (2 - 10) or letter (J, K, Q, and A) and suit symbol (Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, and Spades) identify a playing card. Between the Colour Code and the Corner Cube is the HUE MATRIX, a grid of squares that visually represents the Colour Code. There are 3 rows of 5 possible squares for each of the 3 element primary ingredients. The number of squares that are filled in corresponds with the quantity of that primary. 

The Hue Matrix grid squares are also meant to be read in columns, with each column adding up to a 'sum colour.' A single row of 5 squares is the first part of the SATURATION SUMMARY. These 5 squares are further condensed into a formula of ingredients called the Saturation Sum, which shows the colour as a formula of pure Hue, bookended by any amounts of Black (on the left) and White (on the right). Also in the Saturation Summary is the colour Density, which is the sum of the amounts of all 3 element primary ingredients. And to the right of the Sat Sum is a small colour square that indicates the colour's Quality, as a Hue (a square of colour), a Tint (a White square with a '+' sign), a Shade (a Black square with a '+' sign), or a Tone (a Grey square with a '+' sign).

The VALUE SLIDER is a linear measure to show the colour's greyscale Value, independent of its Hue. The amount of Black is on the left and the amount of White is on the right. These values vary for each colour, depending on both the colour's inherent Hue strength, and the amount of Black or White the colour contains. The amounts are rounded off to the nearest whole number, and the sum of the two will always add up to 100, so you can think of these values as percentage pairs. 

Below the Value Slider are DIGITAL CODES that show the colour's formula in RGB (the light-based system that uses Red, Green and Blue as its primary colours) and Hex Code (an approximate hexidecimal equivalent for computer-based colour applications). 

The last part of the Code Side is a Colour Band across the bottom, a reference for the colour without having to turn the card back over to its Colour Side.


In more ways than not, the Colour Basics Code Side is very similar to the Code Side of the cards in the BTC deck, with a Hue Matrix, a Saturation Summary, a Value Slider, RGB and Hex Codes, and a Colour Band. Here's a look at a Colour Basics card with a colour very similar to the BTC deck's 411... 

The Colour Basics HUE MATRIX is simpler than the BTC Hue Matrix, with only 4 colour grid squares per row instead of 5. Numbering them would risk confusion between the two decks, so rather than using numbers to specify the amounts of Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow, these possible 4 squares are meant to be read in a more general way, as full wholes, halfs, and quarters (or, 'halfs of halfs'). 

The SATURATION SUMMARY is also simplified, adding up to show the mix of Corner Hue parts with Black and White parts (if any). The Saturation Summary is shown as a single Formula, and with 6 Corner Hue ingredients (C, M, Y, R, G, and B) plus Black (K) and White (W), there are 51 different possible colour Formulas. The ratios of each of these ingredients can vary, but the cards in the Colour Basics deck make a valuable reference set for all 51 Formulas.

Other than the simplified Hue Matrix and Saturation Summary, the Colour Basics Code Side is the same as the BTC Code Side.


The Colour Formula for both of these example cards is written as KCWIn addition to 411, can you find the other cards in the BreakThroughColour deck that have this same Formula? Look for a Saturation Sum that contains only Black, Cyan, and White, in any ratio. There are six all together.