Hues-Tints-Shades-Tones: What is a Difference?


Artist usually use the words, Hue, Tint, Tones & Shades when discussing about a colour art, but do you know that each of these terms has a very specific meaning!

Hue is just a colour, to make things simpler think of hue as one of the 12 colours of mixing wheel. The family of 12 brightest and purest colours:

  • Three Primary Colours
  • Three Secondary Colours
  • Six Tertiary Colours
Hues_Primary-Secondary-Tertiary colours

With just these twelve colours, you can literally mix an infinite number of colour schemes. Most of the time you will modify these twelve basic hues by mixing in other colors.

Must Read: What are Warm and Cool Colours?


Tint is a mixture of pure hue or colour and white. As more white is added the colour becomes a lighter and lighter tint.

Tint is sometimes called a Pastel. Basically it’s simply any colour with white colour added. For example, Pink is a tint of Red, and light blue is a tint of blue, etc.

Colour scheme using Tints are usually soft, youthful and soothing, especially the lighter versions.

Tint Colour-soft & sooting-Paint samples

Majorly tints work well in feminine environments. We often see in advertising; marketing and websites using pale and hot pastels if they are targeting women as a demographic. 


A Shade is simply any colour with black addition.  For Example, Maroon is a shade of red and navy is a shade of blue.  Basically it is the combination of a hue and black.

Shades of Colour

One can mix black to any of the twelve pure colours, or by mixing all colours together  creates a shade of the mixture. This means that one can go from an extremely dark, nearly black to a barely shaded pure hue or colour as shown in figure.

Shades are deep, powerful and mysterious. Be careful not to use too much black as it gets little overpowered. Majorly these darks work well in a masculine environment; they are best used as dark accents in art and marketing graphics. Most of the artists use black sparingly because it can quickly destroy your main colour. 


Tone is generated either by adding mixture of grey or by adding both tints and shades of colour.

Tones of Colour-by adding grey to hue

It simply means that tone is created by adding white and back – which is grey to the original hue or colour. Any colour which is greyed down can be said as Tone of colour.

In art tone refers to the degree of darkness or lightness of an area – such that from deepest shadows to the brightness of light source. We perceive the tone of an object depending upon the darkness or lightness of an area, texture or colour and background lighting. Tone is a quality of colour which can be either warm or cold, dull or bright, dim or pure.

In our day to day life almost every colour we see has been toned either little or lot; which makes more colour combinations and are best choices for most of interiors. Artists usually add little grey to their mixture to adjust the value and intensity of colour.

Also Read:
Colour Terms for Your Home Interiors
Basics Of Colour Theory – Everyone Should Know

Best Home Designs

Showcase your Best Designs

More From Topics

Use below filters for find specific topics