LEAP!Tracy HolmesComment

There's nothing as captivating for a colour keener as pure high-test Hue. But sometimes, if you want to see a colour more clearly, you need to brighten it up with the purity of White. But be careful. Keep going with more White and your TINT will fade that Hue away to nothing . . .




Whether you are learning about colour in theory, or using it in practice, there's no denying that pure Hues are the best place to start. Pigment-rich paints on your palette, topped-up toner cartridges in your printer, wax crayons that aren't all wax, the quality of a colour on its own will determine the quality of all that flows from it.

But sometimes a colour can be almost too pure, so fully saturated it's almost hard to see. Colour context and environmental changes can add to the challenge. Adding a little White can actually help a Hue shine through. Adding more White (or too much), and the Hue begins to fade away. That tipping point between 'nicely brighter' and 'clearly whiter' is different for different Hues, depending on how 'light' or 'dark' they are to begin with. 

No matter what the ratio, or how the colour may appear, still colourful or fading away, a Hue plus White is called a TINT. And this may be stating the obvious, but White plus a Hue is also a Tint. It's usually these 'more than half Whites' that we recognize as Tints. Pastel, faded, softer...

Here is a random sampling of Tints from Colour Every Day:


Finally (and this may not be so obvious) a Tint is also a Hue minus some of its Hue. In practice, once you spill 'colour' in the white paint can, you can't take it out. But in theory (and we're all about theory here) removing Hue to make room for more White is a great way to make the concept of 'Tinting' perfectly clear.

Before we add anything to anything (or take anything away), let's review Hue in its pure form. Here are the 12 Colour Basics Hues, arranged in a sequence starting with Yellow:


BTW, for no particular reason, this is the linear Hue sequence I tend to use. Yours may be different, and that's just fine. Including the prism-spitting sequence of colour according to wavelength, there are 24 'right ways' to arrange your Colour Basics rainbow. As long as you've made all the right connections, go with whatever order you wish. If you're new to Hue (and all the rest), it may be best if you follow my flow.


Just like the Connector Hues (and Tints in a colour wheel) the 12 Colour Basics Tints are all 'half and halfs,' connecting every pure Hue with the purity of pure White, in an equal parts ratio. Here's my colour flow, with a lighter lift:

Comparing the colours, pure to tinted, you may agree, some Hues are actually easier to see, not just for what they are, but how they differ from one another. And looking at the Colour Squares in the top right corner of each card, you can see 'what's inside' each colour: half White (taking its place in a higher spot across to top) and half Hue (or half-and-half Hue, in the case of the Connectors) filling the lower half of the Colour Square.


The Cube in the bottom right corner of the Basics Tints Cards above is White. It could just as rightfully have been a Hue, but the Colour Square tells us all we need to know about the colour part, and the White Cube makes it easier to sort through and find all the Tints in the Colour Basics deck.

Cubes on the cards in the Colour Basics deck are a quick way to sort the cards into smaller sets, including our 12 Hues (the Corners and Connectors), 12 Tints (featured here), 12 Shades, 15 Tones, and 11 Axis Greys.

Cubes on the cards in the BTC deck group the cards according to their Corner 'family.' The full deck of 216 BTC Colour Cards can be sorted into 8 smaller Corner decks of 27 cards each, one for each of the Corner Hues (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Red, Green, and Blue), one for White (where there's more than half White), and one for Black (where there's more than half Black).  


There are 60 Tints in the BreakThroughColour deck. Only 18 of them (the 'more than half Whites') are in the White Corner. The rest (Hues with White, but less than half White) are part of each Hue Corner family. There are no 'half White, half Hue' Tints in the BTC deck (Colour Basics has those covered), but you can still get a good look at Hues under the influence of White. 

Here are the 6 BTC Corner Hues, definitely Tinted, but still staying true to their Hue:


Remember, we're talking about Tinting in a theoretical way, and that means we can go from Hue to White and back again in either direction. So, when you look at the Colour Squares in the Basics Tint Cards, learn to read them in different ways: White that's been 'coloured' with Hue; Hue that's been lightened with White; full Hue that's dropped down to half full, or empty White that's filling up.

And when you look at the Colour Codes in the BTC dozen above, you can see the pure Hues are full of 5s, and the lighter, lesser coloured Tint cards are less than full, with all the 5s dropping down to 3s.

The lower the digits, the lighter the Tint.


If you have a BTC deck, pull the cards above and take a closer look at how White sheds light on the original colours (did you think Pink was a Tint of Red? If you look again you'll see its true Hue). 
Want to take those Tints as far as they can go? Look for the BTC cards with only 1s and 0s: 001, 011, 010, 110, 100, and 101. You'll still see a trace of colour, but with almost nothing but White (and only 1s away from the 000 of White itself) you'll find these cards in the White deck...