BreakThroughColour

'LEAP' DAY 22: THE SATURATION SUMMARY

LEAP!Tracy HolmesComment

The Hue Matrix distills a colour down to its 3 element primary ingredients. The Saturation Summary adds them back up again into a unique 1- to 4-ingredient Formula, like a different DNA for every colour . . .

 
 

BREAK IT DOWN, ADD IT UP

First using scoops of ice cream, and then using columns of colour squares, and then using grids of more than one column, we've explored how 3 individual ingredients can combine to give us 8 different resulting 'sums.' The Hue Matrix as an important infographic to show the element primary ingredients and their quantities, but it's the Saturation Summary that adds those ingredients back up again to give us a more accurate representation of a colour's Formula.

In primary school, you were likely taught that with only 3 primary colours (likely Red, Yellow, and Blue), you could make all the colours in the rainbow. In a theoretical sense, Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow are all we need to create not just our Colour Basics colours, but all 216 colours in the BTC deck, and in fact, any colour at all. But in a more practical sense, we need to think of these 3 element primary ingredients as 3 of 8. The element primaries maintain a unique status as being as 'elemental' or as 'prime' as you can get, but all 6 of our Corner Hues are valid as ingredients, as starting points (or ending points), as 'primary' colours. The other 2 Corners, White and Black, factor in as well to vary our realm of Hues along a central axis, shifting the Value of each Hue and giving our colour space its necessary third dimension.

The Hue Matrix shows us a grid of 3 elements, but the Saturation Summary draws from all 8 Corners, to show all colours as single element Hues (C, M, and Y), compound Hues (R, G, and B), and Tint, Shade and Tone variations of both, mixing up to 4 of our 8 Corner ingredients together is varying proportions. 

one INGREDIENT

With the Corner Colours, where all the columns are the same, the connection between the Hue Matrix grid and the Saturation Summary is pretty clear:

Each of these colours are single ingredient colours: pure Cyan, pure Blue, and pure Black. 

MORE INGREDIENTS

With Connector Hues, Tints, and Shades, we start to see Formulas with more than one ingredient:

Here we see colours that are Hue + Hue, Hue + White (a Tint), Hue + Black (a Shade) and Hue + Black + White (a Tone). The Hue Matrix at the top shows the distilled version of the colour as a mix of C, M, and Y. But it's the Saturation Summary that adds those grid columns up into a formula using all 8 Corner Colours as ingredients. These formulas get us closer to being able to see the colour as a sum of these consolidated parts, rather than a mix of all the individual squares in the Hue Matrix.

HUE FIRST, VALUE SECOND

Both the Hue Matrix and the Saturation Summary show us the 'ingredients' in each colour. But they are not 'recipes' in any practical sense. They are more a way to split the colour into its 'colour' part and its 'non-colour' part. Adding up the element primary ingredients, we end up with Hue (element primary, compound primary, or a mix of both), plus Black, or White. Our Saturation Sum is a combination of any or all of these together.

The Hue portion is referred to as the Base Hue. There are 12 Base Hues: the 6 Corner Hues and 6 Connector Hues that are a mix of two adjacent Corners (traditional colour wheels call these the Tertiary colours). In the Colour Basics deck, the Connector Hues are all exactly halfway between their parent Corners. In the BTC deck, there are four Connector Hues between each pair of Corners; they vary depending on the ratio, but regardless of the proportions, they are still made up of two adjacent Corner Hues. Each of the colours above have 'connector' Hues as their Base Hue. Reading the Saturation Sum from left to right, the Base Hue Formulas shown here are BlueCyan (BC), RedYellow (RY), BlueMagenta (BM), and GreenYellow (GY).

Three of the four colours above also have White, Black, or both. Adding these doesn't change the Hue itself, it simply changes its Value and Quality. White makes the RY lighter, Black makes the BM darker, and a darker Grey (more Black than White) neutralizes the GY. 

In summary, the Saturation Summary shows us a truer version of each colour by summarizing the C, M, and Y ingredients into a Base Hue separate from any Black or White. For example, looking at the last colour, 324, if you actually mixed 3 parts Cyan with 2 parts Magenta and 4 parts Yellow, you would get a very different result than if you first mixed the Green with the Yellow, and then mixed that Base Hue with a darker Grey. The Magenta in this colour isn't really Magenta on its own, but a part of Black. Hue first, Value second. In math terms, the Hue Matrix might be written like this: 3C + 2M + 4Y. But in reality, the 'colour equation' would be more accurately written as this: (1G + 1Y) + (2K+1W).

COLOUR LAB

The best way to learn to 'read' the Saturation Summary is to practice.
First, get to know your Base Hues. There are 12 different Hue cards in the Colour Basics deck, and 30 different Hue cards in the BTC deck. See how the different ratios mix together. 
Next, go through your Colour Cards at random, and without looking at the Colour Side, look at the Hue Matrix and the Saturation Summary on the Code Side. First practice your Colour Math by adding up the columns in the Hue Matrix grid. Then add up the components in the Saturation Sum, Hue first, Value second. Try and visualize the Base Hue on its own, and then try and picture it lighter, darker, or de-saturated as a Tint, Shade, or Tone, depending on whether there is also White, Black, or both in the Formula. Once you start to train your brain to mix colours in your head, you'll be able to reverse the process and analyze colours without seeing their ingredients, decipher colours without codes, and to mix colours without 'recipes.' 

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