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Chapter 13

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Chapter 13: Color
Color Basics
Before discussing the technology of Web color, let's quickly review color terms and theory. In traditional color theory, there are three primary colors: blue, red, and yellow. By mixing the primary colors you get three secondary colors: green, orange, and purple. Finally, by mixing these colors we get the tertiary colors: yellow-orange, red-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green, and yellow-green. We now have a total of twelve colors, which are generally arranged as a color wheel, as shown in Figure 13-1. A larger version can be seen at

Color Wheel
Figure 13-1. Simple color wheel

We add to our basic color palette the neutrals: black, white, and gray. Recall that black is the absence of color while white is the combination of all colors.

From the twelve basic colors and the neutrals all the rest of the colors are born. Given a particular color, or more appropriately hue, we might modify the value or brightness of the color to create variations. For example, we might take the color blue and vary it from light blue to dark blue. It is also possible to modify the intensity. Intensity controls how bright or dull a particular color appears. You might think of intensity as purity; the higher the intensity, the more pure the color. Intensity is also described using the term saturation. These basic terms and a few others are defined in Table 13-1.

hue The color attribute identified by color names, such as "red" or "yellow."
value The degree of lightness or darkness of a color.
saturation The relative purity of a color; also referred to as "intensity." The "brighter" the intensity of a color, the more saturated it is. New jeans are saturated with blue; faded ones are a less-saturated blue.
chromatic hues All colors other than black, white, and gray.
neutral colors Black, white, or gray—otherwise known as "non-chromatic hues."
monochromatic A color combination based on variations of value and saturation of a single hue.
Table 1: Basic Color Terminology

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