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The difference between Hue, Shade, Tint and Tone

You must have heard of these terms – hue, shade, tint and tone before. Or maybe even used them before.

People do have idea that these terms are related to colors. But most often, they use these terms interchangeably without having proper knowledge.

At times, even designers get confused between these terms.

All these terms are different and have very specific meanings.

After having the correct knowledge of hue, shade, tint and tone, you will be able to avoid the embarrassment of using wrong terms among the experts.

It can also help you in improving the quality of your work as you will be able to use and explore the new dimensions of the world of colors.

So, let’s find out what exactly are hue, shade, tint and tone in the language of colors.

What is Hue and how is it different from Shade, Tint and Tone?


Hue is the purest form of a color. It does not consist of any added variation of another color.

We can consider the primary and secondary colors from the color wheel as hues. The colors are Yellow, Orange, Red, Violet, Blue, and Green.

Black, grey and white are not considered as hues. This is because they come in the category of the neutral colors.

Neutral colors can be defined as ‘without color’. Most of the time, they are highly unsaturated colors.

Then, what is a color and how is it different from hue?

Color is a general term which can be used to define any value of hue, shade, tint or tone. While hues are the main colors in the color wheel.

Black, grey and white can be considered as colors but not as hues.

What is Shade and how is it different from Hue, Tint and Tone?


Shade of a hue is obtained when any amount of black color is added to that hue.

As a result, the shade looks darker and more intense than the original hue.

The more the value of black, the darker the shade will be. So, the shade can vary from being a little darker version of the original hue to almost black.

A shade cannot have any amount of white or grey in it. Adding white or grey to a hue will give it a different effect.

Different types of Color Schemes

What is Tint and how is it different from Hue, Shade and Tone?


Adding white to any hue from the color wheel gives the tint of that hue. Adding white desaturates a color and makes it less intense.

Tints are the lighter versions of hues. The amount of white added to a color will decide how much lighter it will be.

If a small amount is added, it will give a color little lighter than the original hue. A lot of white added to a hue can make it look like almost white.

You can think of pastel colors like millennial pink, whimsy yellow, creamy mint, etc to be the tints of their original hues like red, yellow and green.

What is Tone and how is it different from Hue, Tint and Shade?


When the neutral color grey is added to a hue, it creates tones of that hue. Grey can be made of any proportions of black and white only.

It the amount of black is more, the grey color will be darker. If the amount of white is more, the grey color will be lighter.

The degree of tone depends upon the lightness or darkness of the added grey. Tones are the colors which we mostly see around us in real world.

Tones make a color look subtle and give it a calming effect. Just be careful with how much amount of grey you add to a color.

Once, you’ve made a color look dull by adding grey to it, it becomes difficult to make it look bright again.


Pretty sure after reading this article you would have got the difference between hue, shade, tint and tone.

I hope now you will be able to level up your color game and use these terms correctly. Also, correct anyone whom you find using them interchangeably.

Go on, mix and match your new learnings of hue, shade, tint and tone to find out what suits your design the best.

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