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Hue, value, and intensity all describe this element of art; artists may use local, optical, or arbitrary variations of this element of art

Elements of art

The rudimentary aspects of an artwork, including line, shape, form, space, color, and texture


Three-dimensional geometric or organic volume


Fundamental element of art; refers to a point's path through space


The impression of depth as achieved through various techniques; Mannerist art deforms scale and this element of art


Two-dimensional geometric or organic area


The figures in an artwork form this positive area; the other areas in an


The surface feel of a real or perceived object

Adjacent color

A color next to another color on the color wheel

Arbitrary color

A color's value altered to reflect special emotions or aesthetics

Color relativity

According to this 19th-century discovery, colors next to another color change the color's intensity: similar colors decrease the color's intensity and contrasting colors increase the color's intensity

Color wheel

This 18th-century invention built on Sir Isaac Newton's discoveries in the 17th century; this diagram of the 12 hues provides a chart which predetermines the results of mixing colors

Complementary color

The hue directly across from another color on the color wheel; red versus green, for example

Cool colors

Green, blue, and violet; seem to recede away from the viewer; hearken to cool forests, mountain lakes, or snow


This type of artwork contains only black, white, or shades of gray


The name of a color; black, white, and gray do not fit in this category


Identifies a color's brightness or purity; the three primary colors - red, yellow, and blue - represent the highest points of this attribute; mixing in neutrals or complementary colors detracts from this attribute

Local color

A color's value without reflections or lighting effects


Includes black, white, and all values of gray; these colors are not hues

Optical color

A color's value with special lighting effects, such as moonlight or candlelight

Primary colors

Red, blue, and yellow; all other colors derive from mixtures of these colors

Secondary colors

Orange, green, and violet; produced through combining two primary colors (red and yellow make orange, for example)


Darker value of a color; opposite of a tint

Tertiary colors

Red-violet, red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, and blue-violet; produced through combining a primary color and a secondary color next to it on the color wheel (blue and green make blue-green, for example)


Lighter value of a color; opposite of a shade


Describes the amount of light or dark in a hue or gray

Warm colors

Red, orange, and yellow; seem to move towards the viewer; hearken to warm sunlight, fire heat, or dry summer grass

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