Characteristics of Color

The characteristics of a color are determined by three different elements: hue, chroma and value.


Hue is the most recognizable characteristic of a color. It’s what most people mean when they say the word “color.” There are really an infinite number of possible hues. For instance, between red and yellow lies every possible orange hue.


Chroma refers to the purity and intensity of a color. High chroma colors look rich and full. Low chroma colors can look dull or pale. Pastel colors are low chroma, while intense jewel tones are high chroma. Chroma is also referred to as saturation.


Value is the lightness or darkness of a color. Sometimes light colors are called tints, and dark colors are called shades. Value is also referred to as luminance.