Colour has three elements namely hue, value and saturation. It indicates the colour’s position on the colour wheel. Some examples of hue are red, green, yellow blue and orange. The Munsell colour system defines the principal hues as red, yellow, blue, green, blue and purple. These hues are positioned in equal proportions around the Munsell wheel. The colours yellow-red, green-yellow, blue-green, purple-blue, and red-purple which are in between are known as intermediate hues. Munsell also assigned symbols to each of these colours such as G, BG, B, PB, P, R, YR, Y, GY and RP. A point worth considering is the hue does not depend on the saturation and value. To give you an example, if an object is red it only tells you about the hue, but it does not indicate whether the hue is light, dark or saturated. In practise the more the number of hues in a work, more is the complexity associated with it. If you analyse the master paintings you will notice that most of them use a limited range of hues. The dominant hues are mostly three to four in number. The reason for limiting the number of hues in work is that it adds to the complexity. In nature, the hue is determined by the light and other factors. Also, certain colours exist in certain light conditions and this results in limiting the number of hues used in the work.
The importance of hue in a painting is normally exaggerated by artists. The correct use of value and saturation reflects the realism in the work as compared to the hue. The correct selection of value will help you in determining the right hues so the right quality of realism is achieved. Artists who follow Fauvism normally use hues which are inaccurate but at the same time, the work retains the quality of realism.
The colour temperature is an indicator of whether a colour is warm or cool. Examples of cool colours are blue and green while red and orange are warm colours. These temperatures are derived on our perception. For example, if you use cool colours instead of warm colours it results in muddy colours. Hue and temperature are inter-linked. Normally a change in the hue will result in the change in the temperature.
Each colour has a value that lies between white and black. The ability to translate colour into values is the hallmark of a good artist. A point worth noting with respect to hue and value is that hues in pure forms have different values. For example, pure yellow is lighter than pure blue. The pigments used in painting have preset values. For example, cadmium yellow is on the lighter end of the scale while ultramarine is on the dark end of the scale.
Colour mixing is the process of mixing of two hues. The three primary colours are red, blue and yellow. The process of mixing two primary colours results in the formation of a secondary colour. The process of mixing three primary colours results in the formation of a tertiary colour. The mixing of a primary colour with a secondary colour also results in the formation of tertiary colour. The colours which are placed on the opposite side of the colour wheel are called complementary colours. The mixing of complementary colours also results in the formation of tertiary colours.
Certain colours are associated with our emotions. For example, red is used for anger, green represents nature and orange is used to denote warmth.