Properties Of Colored Pigment: Value, Temperature, Intensity And Hue

Properties Of Colored Pigment

Edited and republished from Jan. 2010

There are four properties of colored pigment that the artist manipulates in order to produce a painting: value, temperature, intensity and hue. And each property is seen in relation to surrounding areas of color; this relationship is called simultaneous contrast.

Properties Of Color (see chart below)

1) Value: the relative lightness or darkness of a color, from pure white to black
2) Temperature: the relative coolness or warmth of a color
3) Intensity: the relative brightness or dullness of a color
4) Hue: the identifying name of a color–yellow, red, blue, etc.

Properties Of Colored Pigment

Below is an example using a blue hue, from top to bottom: Value–light to dark, Temperature–cool to warm, and Intensity–bright to dull.

Properties of Color - Blue Hue

Properties of Color – Blue Hue


Simultaneous Contrast

A color’s properties are directly affected by adjacent colors. In the slideshow examples below, two nearly identical gray squares appear lighter or darker depending on the surrounding value. This also applies to the other properties of color–each can appear different in temperature and intensity depending on adjacent colors.

From a practical standpoint the artist should be cognizant of the relational property of color. Two ways to facilitate more accurate color mixing are to 1. isolate an area of color in nature by covering adjacent colors with a view finder (as seen in the slideshow) and 2. use toned backgrounds on your support/canvas to simulate the tone of your palette.


MT McClanahan

An artist and perpetual thinker, MT McClanahan finds inspiration through connecting ideas across a broad range of topics. He especially enjoys philosophy and how art and life interconnect. He is the founder of TPT and his paintings can be seen at mtmcclanahan.com.

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