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Monochromatic Color: Definition, Schemes & Examples

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  • 0:01 How Is the Color…
  • 0:52 Components of the Scheme
  • 1:31 Black & White Compositions
  • 1:51 How Monochrome Is Used
  • 2:50 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Swoboda
A monochromatic color scheme is based on variations of one particular color. In this lesson, we'll explore how to choose and create monochromatic color schemes. The lesson will also include specific images of monochromatic color schemes.

How Is the Color Scheme Created?

Imagine that you have a favorite color that you would like to use as the basis for the color scheme in your new living room. For example, let's say that your favorite color is blue. By adding black to the blue hue that you have chosen, you will achieve darker shades of that particular blue. Add white to that blue, and you will create lighter blue tints. You will end up with a monochromatic color scheme for your living room.

Monochromatic color refers to a color scheme that is comprised of variations of one color. You can use any color to create a monochromatic color scheme. For example, adding white to red creates pink, adding black to red creates maroon, etc. Then, you could have a monochromatic color scheme of pink, red, and maroon.

Components of the Scheme

There are three main components of a monochromatic color scheme:

  • Hue - a particular color
  • Shade - a darker version of a particular color
  • Tint - a lighter version of a particular color

Going back to our example of using the color blue as our base color in a monochromatic color scheme, here is an example of a variety of shades and tints based on the color, or hue, blue. You can imagine that adding increasing amounts of white to a color would result in increasingly lighter tints of that color. In the same way, you can imagine that adding increasing amounts of black to a color would make increasingly darker shades of that color.

Black and White Compositions

While people sometimes refer to black and white color schemes as being monochromatic, strictly speaking, they are not monochromatic since monochromatic schemes are based on variations of one color and black and white are non-colors. It is more proper to think of black and white compositions in terms of grayscale.

How Monochrome Is Used

Monochromatic color schemes are often used by artists and designers to evoke a specific mood or feeling. Blue-based color schemes can often be seen in places where the desired effect is an atmosphere of peace and tranquility, such as hospitals and schools, because it is considered to be a calming color. In his painting from 1900-1901, Houses of Parliament, London, Claude Monet used a variety of blue tints and shades to create this very serene image.

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