Lessons in Lingo – Colour

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Graphic design dictionary.

Time to enter the wonderful world of colour! Colour is emotive, and whatever palette you decide to use defines your brand and influences how your audience perceives you. If you have an idea of what colour tones/patterns you want to utilise but don’t know the terminology (who the HEX is Hue?), you will find out in this week’s Lessons in Lingo!


You have probably heard of or used an artist’s palette, an oblong-shaped piece of flat wood or plastic used to mix colours. In graphic design, a colour palette is a selection of colours that is to be utilised to represent your brand. Designers will choose a collection of colours that work together harmoniously and reflect the tone/personality of your brand.


A HEX code is a combination of 6 numbers that universally identify each colour. The code represents how much red, green and blue exist in that colour. Hex codes are used in both website & graphic design software to set the colour of each element.


When graphic designers present you with a colour palette, it will include a swatch, name (usually) and HEX code for each colour


Similar to a HEX code, Pantone (also known as PMS, short for Pantone Matching System) is a standardised colour identification number. The key difference between to two is that HEX codes are ‘website safe’, meaning they will render the same no matter what browser you’re using, whereas Pantone colours are not. They do however appear in print and fashion designs.


Hue is a term that refers to a colour’s dominant colour family. It is the origin or the underlying base colour it belongs to.

Tint, tone & shade


The tint is the lightness of a colour, or how much white is added to it.


Tone is how much grey is added to a colour.


And shade, you probably guessed it, is the amount of black added to a colour.


Colour gradients, or colour transitions, are the gradual blend of one colour to another or one shade of a colour to another. There are several kinds of colour gradients including:


‘linear’ — a band of colours that transitions in a straight line,

‘radial’ — when colour radiates from a focal point, and

‘conic’ when shading progresses in a circular clockwise or anticlockwise direction.


Derived from the Latin word ‘opaque’, which means ‘not transparent’, opacity refers to the amount of light let through a colour. The higher the opacity, the more solid and less see-through a colour is. A lower opacity has a higher transparency.


Deriving from the root words ‘mono’ meaning one and ‘chrome’ meaning colour, a monochrome picture or image utilises just one colour in a variety of tints, tones and shades. Black & white photographs fall into this category.

Colour plays such an important role in conveying emotion, mood and tone. It can even influence the decisions people make!


To see how our designers consider and utilise colour to create a brand’s persona, take a look through our Medika Health Clinic portfolio.

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Book a 15-minute informal call with us so we can answer your initial questions and get to know your key objectives. If you can’t find a suitable time using our booking tool, feel free to email us at hello@ofnotedesigns.com or call us now on (08) 6153 1579