Most of us, when we think of color, we think of their associated names such as red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple…the colors of the visible spectrum. We also give names to a wide variety of colors such as berry, rose, serenity blue, jade, emerald, taupe, sunflower….you get the idea. There are literally an infinite number of color possibilities depending on viewing conditions…looking at a paint or color deck is simply scratching the surface. So, how do you know what color matches your personality if there are millions of colors to choose from? Before we get into understanding what color matches your personality, it’s important to understand what color is.
The 3 Attributes of Color
Color has three attributes: hue, chroma (saturation), and value. Adjust the percentage used in one and you get a new color.
The family name for the true hue identified in the spectrum or color wheel. For example, RED is a hue, pink is a color derived from hue.
Chroma relates to the intensity of color: from dull to bright. It distinguishes a color’s vividness and determines color personality.
Value relates to the lightness or darkness of a color. The Gray Scale is used to determine value with 0 being black and 10, white.
These three attributes are crucial in defining color and many artists have used this knowledge for years to convey feeling and emotion in their paintings. Comparing van Gogh to Monet, you can see and feel the difference of color quality. Where van Gogh uses brighter chromas and deeper values in Starry Night, Monet uses duller chromas and lighter values in Houses of Parliment. The energetic and active yellows and oranges are in harmonious contrast to the deeper blues and purples, whereas the muted and analogous blues and purples Monet used are more peaceful and soft.
So, how does chroma relate to you? Chroma is not only an attribute of color, it plays a key role in personality and mood. It takes Value into consideration but it’s mostly defined by how we mix colors together to get new colors and how those colors create unique intensities and evoke specific feelings and emotions. We can change chroma by mixing the true hue – I use Munsell’s 5R (5 Red) as an example below – with white, gray, black, brown or warm gray. For the sake of this example, we’re not going to get into the mixing color with other colors so we’ll stick to simple basics.
5R - True Hue
Tinted with White
Toned with Gray
Shaded with Black
Toasted with Brown
As you can see, the colors in the 5R Red family have very unique and different qualities. The Animated version shows the true hue in it’s brightest, saturated form. It’s very lively and can be considered loud if dominant. Clear is lighter and crisper with Subdued being soft and subtle. Deep goes…well, deep; it’s moody, dramatic, mysterious. And Dynamic warms up a color…it’s rich and toasty.
As Johannes Itten discovered, we are attracted to the colors that make up our own personal coloring. As such, it’s important to understand which color chroma you’re most attracted to as a way of defining what colors to surround yourself with and that align with your own personal energy & personality.
Discover Your Color Type
I put together a quiz for you to take and discover which chroma energy you’re aligned with. Make sure to take the quiz and share your results on my Facebook page!
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