How Colors are Created

Learning how colors are created will give you a better understanding and appreciation for the various combinations of colors used in beading designs.

Primary - First tier of color

The three Primary colors, red, yellow and blue, are called Primary because they cannot be mixed from other colors.

Secondary - Second tier of color

When two Primary colors are mixed together they form a second tier of colors, the Secondary colors.

    Red + Yellow = Orange
    Yellow + Blue = Green
    Blue + Red = Violet

Tertiary - Third tier of color

When the first six colors are further mixed, one Primary with one adjacent Seconday, they result in a third tier, the Tertiary colors: yellow/green, blue/green, blue/violet, red/violet, red/orange and yellow/orange.

Adding Black, White or Gray

When black is added to a hue, it deepens its value; when white is added to a hue, it lightens its value To add further nuance, hues, tints and shade may be mixed even further by adding gray of the same value to create a tone. The value of a tone remains the same as the original color.


A general term for what you see when light falls on an object. This may include objects that are black, white or gray


Sometimes used interchangeably with color, it actually applies only to pure color at full 100% saturation, not mixed with black, white, or gray. The term hue is also used to describe the basic color of a shade, tint, or tone. For example, mint is a tint of the green hue, navy is a shade of the blue hue and dusty rose is a tone of the red hue.

Tints, Shades, and Tones

These terms are often used incorrectly, although they describe fairly simple color concepts. If a color is made lighter by adding white, the result is called a tint. If black is added, the darker version is called a shade. And if gray is added, the result is a different tone.

    Tints - adding white to a pure hue:

    Shades - adding black to a pure hue:

    Tones - adding gray to a pure hue:


    Value is the lightness or darkness of any color. A color to which black has been added is called a SHADE, and has a darker value. A color to which white has been added is called a TINT, and has a lighter value. Value can suggest depth, volume, and mood. Pink is a TINT of red. Burgundy is a SHADE of red.

    Light Values (1-2) are soft, restful, light and airy.

    Mid-range values (3-5) are strong, confident, youthful and active. These values denote youth and action. Gray, taupe and off-white are pleasing neutrals for this range. Mid-range combined with black or white make a bold statement.

    Dark values (6-7) or jewel tones are considered conservative, powerful and authoritative. They close up space and make tit see smaller. Black and charcoal are good background choices or neutral additions for darks.

    Warm colors are the yellow, orange and red range. They denote warmth, and make a color scheme look cheerful and exuberant. They come forward with vibrancy.

    Cool colors are the green, blue and violet range. They denote coolness, and look calm, clean and inviting. They recede and are restful. Red/violet and yellow/green contain elements of both warm and cool colrs, They become warmer or cooler as they are combined with colors which are warmer or cooler.

    Now that we have briefly discussed how colors are created lets now look at Using the Color Wheel to Create Stunning Combinations

    Related Articles:

    Introduction To Color Theory
    Great color combinations don't just happen by accident - color theory, the science behind design - can be easily learned.

    How to Design Your Own Jewelry
    Learn the art of jewelry design using the elements and principles of design.

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    Return to The Art of Color for Bead Jewelry Designers
    Return to Beading Design Jewelry home page.

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