A Guide to Tint, Tone, and Shade in Color

Artists use tint, tone, and shade to bring depth and nuance to color families. These achromatic additives create new color values that allow decorators and artists to create specific moods and styles. When you understand the process behind tint, tone, and shade, you can use these color distinctions to create more cohesive color harmony and use it to create more impactful and emotionally resonant space.

Using Tint, Tone, and Shade to Create Harmonious Color Palettes

What are Tint, Tone, and Shade?

Adding tint to a color means that you lighten the color with the addition of white. Combining white with a saturated color will increase its lightness by making it more reflective. The color will be less intense with the addition of white. You will increase the color’s transparency, which creates a softer and more delicate look.

Adding tints to color families allows designers to create a monochromatic design that is harmonious by using one hue with a range of values.

Using tone means combining a color with gray. The addition of gray to a hue will decrease the intensity and saturation of a color. Depending on the original color, gray tones can either lighten or darken the color to create a new color value and bring it toward neutral. This is useful in art and also home design to create a more subtle palette.

Toning will create less intense colors that are pleasing to the eye and more relaxing than vibrant and highly saturated colors. Toned colors also create a good background for other colors allowing vibrant or light colors to stand out.

You can create a new shade of a color with the addition of black. This is a useful technique when you want to increase the depth of a color or add more contrast in your design. Just a small addition of black will create a color that is more moody and mysterious.

Paint companies like Farrow & Ball add just a small amount of black pigment to knock just an edge off the luminance of their paint colors and create the look of age.

Using Tint, Tone, and Shade to Create Harmonious Color Palettes

The addition of achromatic colors like white, gray, and black to color families like red, blue, and yellow creates a more refined and subtle color palette from which you can choose many diverse colors. You can use these to create color schemes with texture and nuance and to balance the intensity of the color in the room to provide a soothing and more subtle design.

Make a room more inviting and snug by incorporating a base color with black shading, or make it more subtle with a lighter tint color. Decrease the intensity of a color by using a base color with an injection of a gray color tone. Layer in diverse and subtle colors with the addition of wallpaper, throw pillows, rugs, furniture, and wall art.

Monochromatic Color Palettes

Monochromatic Color Palettes
Summer Thornton, Design Inc.

Monochromatic color designs use just one color family to create a pleasing interior space. To the uninitiated, this may seem to be an unexciting strategy, but these color schemes are some of the most harmonious and balanced. Monochromatic color palettes evoke feelings of serenity and calm, making them ideal for bedrooms and meditation areas. Tint, tone, and shade provide the nuance that colors need to make these designs work.

Begin with a base shade and build upon it by adding colors in the same family in varying tints, tones, and shades. Think about a monochromatic color palette based on the color red. Consider all the shades of color from the red family including different red hues like candy apple red, blush pink, and begonia.

Complementary Color Palettes

Complementary Color Palettes
Studio 511

Complementary colors are located across from one another on the color wheel. Color palettes built upon these hues are some of the most dynamic and bold. Complementary color palettes benefit from the addition of more nuanced shades of color.

Consider a simple complementary palette based on blue and orange. Create depth and interest to the design by varying the intensity of the colors, a pale peach wall color, slate blue occasional chair, deep coral curtains, and gray-blue wall art.

Analogous Color Palettes

Analogous Color Palettes
Charla Ray Interior Design

Colors located next to one another on the color wheel are called analogous colors. Designers use analogous colors to create soothing palettes with colors of a similar temperature.

Think about an analogous color palette based on blue and green. From this fundamental color base, layer in diverse shades of blue and green, including kelly green, mint green, navy blue, sky blue, and slate.