How are colors classified?

Table of Contents

The exact number of colour tones the human eye can perceive has not been scientifically established, but it is estimated to be around one million chromatic variations.

There are several ways to classify colours, ranging from the order of mixing to the impression they give. In this blog post, we are going to talk about the most common colour classifications.

Colour types based on mixing order

Classifying colours by mixing order is a common method. This involves looking at the order in which colours appear on the well-known colour wheel. According to this classification, colours are divided as follows.

Basic colours

Base colours are the “original” colours, that is, colours that cannot be obtained by mixing other colours. They are essential for making the other colours on the wheel.

By basic colours we mean the three colours: blue, red and green.

Secondary Colours

Secondary colours are created by evenly mixing (50%) two base colours. The resulting colours are cyan, magenta and yellow.

Tertiary Colours

Tertiary colours are the result of mixing one base colour with the secondary colour next to it on the colour wheel.

Colour types based on brightness

Colours can also be classified according to their brightness, which in turn has to do with how colours reflect or absorb light. This allows us to distinguish between light and dark colours.

Light Colours

Light colours are colours that reflect light and therefore appear brighter to our eyes than dark colours. On the colour wheel, light colours range from orange to green.

Dark Colours

Dark colours, on the other hand, absorb more light. These are the different colours found on the colour wheel, ranging from reddish to blue-green.

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Colour types based on Temperature

This classification is based on colour psychology and distinguishes warm and cool colours based on the feeling they convey.

Cool colours

In psychology, we associate cool colours with moments or events where temperatures are low, such as winter and snow. So these colours are purple, blue and cyan.

Warm Colours

In contrast, warm colours are associated with sources of heat such as the sun and fire. Hence, warm colours include shades of red, yellow and orange.

Colour types based on Family

The classification of colour types based on family is derived from painting, design and interior design. The resulting colour palette is based on aspects such as saturation and brightness in an HSB colour model.

The obtained table classifies colours as pastel, earthy, neutral and neon, although more subdivisions may exist.

Pastel colours

Pastels are light colours with low saturation. They are genuinely soothing colours, such as tones of salmon, pink or mint green.

Earthly Colours

These are the colours found in nature, not only the brown of the earth itself, but also any other colour present in a natural landscape: shades of blue, green, orange, etc.

Neutral Colours

Neutrals are colours that exude sobriety. They are found on the grey scale, from black to white.

Neon colours

Neon colours are the “eye-catching” shades, fluorescent, with maximum saturation. They are mainly used to convey energy and power.

How do we perceive different shades of colour?

Colour perception is due to the eye’s response to stimuli from electromagnetic waves. As the organ responsible for vision, the eye sends this information to the brain, which processes it and allows us to perceive the specific colour.

According to colour theory, differences in colour perception between individuals depend on the number of cones, which are the eye cells that convert light emitted by colour into chemical signals for the brain.

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The Importance of Colour Combinations

Colours are combined in different ways to convey various sensations to the observer: tranquillity, energy, joy, sadness…. Professionals such as interior designers and user interface designers know all too well that colours can influence our mood.

In painting, the combination of colours is also determined by the artist’s expressive intention. Take Gustav Klimt’s painting ‘The Kiss’, for example. As the name suggests, it shows a yellow cow, even though we all know that cows are not yellow. What did the artist want to express by using this colour for the animal?….

Knowing the properties and characteristics of each colour, among many other aspects, is a quality of experienced painters. But there are also ways to create a painting like a true artist without this knowledge.

The Method to Make a Painting Without Experience

Regardless of your experience with colours, offers you the chance to create a painting using the painting-by-number system. It is a relaxing, cost-effective and productive activity that lets you discover the artist in yourself.

As mentioned, you don’t have to worry about your experience. In addition to the other required materials, you will receive a numbered canvas: you just need to apply the indicated colour to the right numbered area. Thus, stroke by stroke, the final result will appear before your eyes.

Whether it is paintings by famous artists or personalised paintings, you can create a masterpiece with your own hands for your home (or as a gift).

Take a look at all the paintings you can make here and let the numbers (and the instructions) guide you!

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