Tinting the hard way

Before we cover the more efficient Tint-to-Hue method, let me digress and talk about the hard way to do it: the Hue-to-Tint method. It goes something like this:

  1. Look at a subject and generalize the color area you’re interested in. Arrive at a color in your mind that is a summary blend of the tonal area.
  • Then decide which hue it is based on. (This is the crucial divergence from tint-to-hue, where you find the matching tint, instead of corresponding hue.)
  1. Go to that hue, and tint it to the appropriate value and saturation.

This also sounds simple. So what’s the problem? The problem is that hues actually shift on tint. For example, take a yellow and mix it with a neutral, and it will look greenish. Hue-shift is an interesting phenomena. A visual survey shows that invariably (except for blue), all hues shift towards the neighboring cooler color on tint. With this understanding in mind, let’s try those two hue-to-tint steps above, and see an actual mixing experience:

  1. Identify a color based on a target region in your subject. Let’s say it’s this color:
  2. To me the hue of the tint looks like rose/warm magenta.
  3. So I take magenta and neutralize it with white and a light version of its compliment (which in the traditional model is yellow-green). Here’s what I get with that mixture:
  4. De-constructing the steps: about midway in the magenta-to-white mixture I arrived at the right value (step 1), which was too intense. Adding the traditional compliment yellow-green (step 2) should have neutralized it (but notice there is no neutral in the magenta tint-to-yellow green blend steps). So in step 2 I end up with a color that is pretty darn close, but no quite what I want (the hue still isn’t right, it’s too yellow and under saturated). This is frustrating.
  5. Being the perfectionist that I am, I want to add other colors to nudge it to the right hue. But what to add? More magenta just puts it back into the place from where I just came. It looks like it could be a bit warmer, so maybe adding a tad bit of red will help:
  6. I mix up a red tint to arrive at the desired value (step 3), which I then mix with my step 2 color (if I still have enough of it and don’t have to remix it), and blend the two until I arrive at a color that is close enough to call it good (step 4). It’s not a hundred percent accurate, but close enough for artistic work. What is missing in color accuracy is made up with accuracy in value. It’s not 100% accurate, but it is believable.
    Notice that to get to this color, I had to go through four mixes (assuming I got them each right the first time, which doesn’t always happen).

This is the Hue-to-tint method. Trial and error exacerbated by a faulty compliments model (that injected too much yellow into the mix, for example). Can you arrive at the color you want eventually? Yes, of course. With enough time, paints and elbow grease, you can sneak up on your color from all kinds of directions. 


copyright (c) 2014 Roy Zuniga 

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