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Color Principles Workshop #2

Color is the basis of our work as rubber stamping artists.  Sherre Hulbert of AlteredHeartDesigns is providing a series on Color Principles for Stamper's Quest magazine. We are excited to bring to you the second part in the series. You can refresh your memory, or if you missed the first lesson, click here to review Lesson 1.

LESSON 2- Shades, Tints, Tones

Here is a brief description of color variations.

  • There are pure colors, such as red, yellow, green, and blue (also described as hues).
  • There is white.
  • There is black.
  • There is gray which may be formed through a combination of white and black.
  • There are tints (pink, lavender, peach) formed by mixing pure colors with white.
  • There are shades (brown, maroon, olive) formed by mixing pure colors with black.
  • There are tones (tan, beige, taupe) formed by mixing pure colors with white and black (or with gray).

Any given color may be defined in terms of hue, of value (lightness or darkness) and of chroma (intensity or saturation). Chromatic colors are those with the quality of hue in them. Achromatic colors are the so-called neutrals, white, gray and black. Hue is the term used to distinguish one chromatic color from another, red from orange, orange from yellow, etc. Rose has a reddish hue; ivory has a yellowish hue, etc. Value is the term used to distinguish the apparent lightness or darkness of a color. Pink is a color of high value, maroon a color of low value. Chroma refers to relative purity or grayness of a color. Orange is a color of strong chroma. Tan is a color of weak chroma. Colors of strong chroma are those that approach the likeness of pure hues. Colors of weak chroma are those that approach the likeness of neutral gray.

(The above information was taken from Creative Color by Faber Birren).

Heavy-body acrylic paint:
Hansa Yellow
Cadmium Yellow
Cadmium Red Medium
Acra Magenta
Ultramarine Blue
Phthalo Blue
Titanium White
Mars Black
Flat paint brush
Bristol Board
Glue, ruler, pencil, scissors


We will be making two strips using each color of paint to create their tints, shades, and tones. I made my strips the width of my cork-backed ruler (around 1.25") and approximately one inch per tint, shade or tone. Begin by marking a long strip 1.25" wide by as long as the paper.

Starting with Hansa Yellow, make your first color swatch the pure color from the tube. You will then gradually add white to each swatch until you get to pure white. This will be your tints strip.

For your shades and tones strip, mark with pencil a strip 1.25" wide by 7" long. You may make this strip as long as the first if you wish. You will first put the pure Hansa Yellow in the middle swatch. Then working to the left, you will make 3 darker shades to pure black.  If you penciled a longer strip, you can show more color swatch steps until you hit pure black. On the right side of the strip you will use lighter to darker shades of gray mixed with your pure color (Hansa Yellow).

To be able to keep your work for future reference, you can trim the strips and then glue them to another piece of Bristol board. Be sure to label the strips “Hansa Yellow tints” “Hansa Yellow Shades” “Hansa Yellow Tones” (or whichever color you are using).

Repeat this exercise for each of the colors. You should have one cool and one warm yellow, red, and blue. 12 strips in all when you are done.


For this lesson, look for pictures that show value contrast. Very light mixed with very dark. Also look for photos that are high in value (all light colors) and low in value (all dark colors). Add your thoughts on this week’s exercises.

Again, thank you to Lisa Beerntsen of Santa Rosa Junior College for this exercise.

Thank you, Sherre, for providing us with these lessons.  Check back next quarter when we bring you Lesson #3!  Until then, you can enjoy checking out Sherre's artwork and latest classes she's involved in at the following sites:

JUST RELEASED! Exploring the Latest Trends in Mixed Media Art, Vol 2- Recycled, Reinspired, Reinvented; https://createspace.com/3363714
JEWELRY BEYOND TIME, NOW AVAILABLE! https://createspace.com/3363721

Editor's Note:  For the next article in this series, click here.

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1 Responses »

  1. Thanks for the reminder lesson on color. I do papercrafts along with watercolor and it's always good tr freshen up our color blending skills. I printed off the tutorials so I can refer to them. Thanks...