Paint Glossary: All About Paint, Color and Tools

Learn what type of paint to use, which tools will work best and the basics for picking color schemes.

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Color Basics

Color Wheel: A pie-shaped diagram showing the range and relationship of colors (Image 1).

Complementary Colors: Hues directly opposite each other on the color wheel. For example: green paired with red or orange paired with blue, like this pale blue dining room accompanied by bold orange accents. As the strongest contrasts, complements tend to intensify each other (Image 2).

Harmonious (Analogous) Colors: Three to six colors close together on the color wheel. The shared underlying color generally gives such color schemes a coherent, sophisticated look. Since little variety of color is used, interest has to come from texture, pattern, lighting and accessorizing. This eclectic living room draws in analogous hues of yellow, orange and hints of red to add interest to the space (Image 3).

Hue: Another term for specific points on the pure, clear range of the color wheel.

Primary Colors: Red, blue and yellow. All other colors are derived from these three (Image 1).

Monochromatic: Color schemes that are shades and tints of one color. For example: brown and taupe or shades of blue (Image 2).

Secondary Colors: A mix of two primary colors. For example: violet is made from mixing blue and red, green is made from yellow and blue, and yellow and red combine to make orange (Image 3).

Triad Colors: Three colors that are equally spaced on the color wheel, such as red, yellow and blue or green, orange and violet (Image 1).

Value/Tone: Degree of lightness or darkness of a color. It is determined by adding black to create a shade, white to create a tint, or gray to create a tone. Monochromatic color schemes are shades and tints of one color (Image 2).

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