What Is Hue – What Does It Mean In Color Theory?

by Neadeen Masters on April 15, 2012

What Is Hue – What does it mean to the artist? 

The word Hue is a term used in the art world to define the family of a color. …. For example, if ‘Robin’s Egg Blue’ is the color we want to suggest, we might also say that Robin’s egg blue is a blue ‘Hue’ or it belongs to the family of blue colors on the color wheel. Relative to the other colors found on the color wheel such as red or yellow they are all Hues. Generally we can also use the term Hue when we refer to the spectrum of color that runs around the color wheel. When you hear the question, what is hue, you can immediately think about color theory and the language of color.

What is Hue - Art Apprentice Online Yellow Hues Belong to the Yellow Family of Colors

What Is Hue? The word ‘Hue’ is used in two separate ways.

Shown in these two visual examples are several ‘Hues’. These yellow colors above, all come from the yellow group of colors on the color wheel. If we describe them, we would say they are the Yellow Hues. The same goes for the Blue colors we see below.

What is Hue - Blue Hues - Art Apprentice Online What is Hue – Blue Hues from the Blue Family of Colors

The word ‘Hue’ is also used to label the color of a pigment.

Paint manufacturers will use the term ‘Hue’ to designate a pigments color. Here is an example of this.  In the acrylic paint line from DecoArt Traditions Artist Acrylics, Prussian blue is referred to as a Hue because it is a mixed color. This color is labeled Prussian Blue Hue. This choice of wording communicates to the user that the color of the paint has been carefully matched to replicate the original pigment that was historically used to make Prussian Blue.

Often a paint manufacturer will select another specific pigment or a combination of pigments to copy the historical ‘color’ because the original pigment might be fugitive or toxic, or may not work as well. The pigment that was historically used to make Prussian Blue was fugitive (it fades easily). The paint manufacturer chose to implement a new pigment in its place, using a different pigment with a much higher light fast rating and it has the same hue.

Conscientious artists who are learning painting, also need to learn about the paint they are using. It is important for the successful mixing of colors, as well as helping when selecting or buying pigments.  Too often costly mistakes are made when we don’t understand the working properties of pigments. If learning about color and pigments is a subject you wish to learn more about, there are several in-depth online art classes about color theory offered at the Art Apprentice Online Art School. Begin with Discover the Basics – Color Theory One with Instructor Gaby Hunter. No longer will you ponder the question: what is hue!!

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