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Color Theory for Quilters - Shades

In the first article of this series on Color Theory for Quilters, we talked about how to begin to read the Color Wheel. We recognised the 12 pure colors on the wheel and how they are positioned on the wheel. We also discussed the relationship between each of these colors.

If you would like to refresh your memory Click Here

In the second and third articles of this series we investigated the first two variations of the Pure colors – the Tints and the Tones.

If you would like to refresh your memory Click Here for the Tints Article

If you would like to refresh your memory Click Here for the Tones Article.

Now, let’s explore the third of the three variations of the 12 pure colors. The Shades.

Here’s a horizontal visual view of the 12 pure colors and their names and their places on the wheel.



The third variation of the pure colors are the SHADES. Put simply, shades are pure colours with black added to make them darker.

In your mind imagine a paint pallette that is loaded with black. Take the pure color of blue. What do you think will happen if you add black to the blue? The color that we know as dark blue will be made!

PROBLEM: In the world of color as we know it, there are probably many hundred different names for the color dark blue and this creates a problem for us when we try to identify colors.
SOLUTION: To be able to identify color
variations easily, we refer to the shade variation of Pure Blue as Blue Shade.
So let’s look at what happens to each of the 12 pure colors, when black is added, and they become shades.



Some colors simply become darker versions of themselves, and other colors change to almost new colours. But it is important to remember that each of the pure colours, when shaded become dark colors.

Interestingly, the most common co-ordinating colour that goes with these tones is black because black is contained in all the tones. In your mind’s eye, imagine a brightly colored quilt containing the colors of dark blues, dark greens, dark violets. You wouldn’t add grey or white to this quilt, but you would add black. This is because black is contained in all the shade colours.
That concludes this article on one of the variations of pure colors – the shades.

The next article will explore the four most common color schemes used by quilters.


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