H is for Hue

The Munsell Color System

The Munsell Color System – Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Okay, so H was supposed to be written on Tuesday and this puts me several days behind, but hey, I had a headache for three days, so I’m using that for an excuse, and if I’m behind, so be it.

So H is for Hue. There are three main attributes used to describe colour – Lightness (dark vs. light, black vs. white), Saturation (intensity vs. dullness) and Hue (the colour’s name or designation eg. red, green, yellow, blue, etc). One of the best ways to visualise this is the diagram above. The Munsell Color System was created by Professor Albert Munsell in the early 20th century. In his system he uses the terms Chroma and Value which I initially replaced with Saturation and Lightness respectively, but apparently Chroma and Value are slightly different colour concepts (and the definitions hurt my brain). In any case, the three-dimensional basics are well illustrated and Hue can be clearly seen. Looking at this cylindrical construction it is easy to see how that cylinder could become almost infinite in length, width and depth. Anyone who uses a computer graphics program will often see various representations of the colour spectrum like this, all attempting to create as many colours as possible.

A description of Hue is often used to compare colours ie. Ultramarine Blue is a more violet hue than Cerulean Blue.

In painting theory, the term ‘hue’ refers to a pure colour not tinted or shaded.

When ‘hue’ is mentioned on a tube of paint it means that the colour specified does not use the traditional pigment and is instead a mix of usually safer pigments to create that hue, eg. Cadmium Red hue or Cobalt Blue hue.

And now I’m off to discover what ‘I’ is for…

Best wishes,

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