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I see people adding color on top of a gray-scale drawing and their colors look great, but when I do myself, the colors look terrible (dirty, not the color I seem to pick from the color wheel). People tell me I need to learn about tone and value and the color wheel. I've gathered from this site and others that tone is really hue, which is really what we call color. But I'm not sure how saturation and value work into this.

What is the relationship between hue, saturation, and value and how does this factor in to coloring a gray-scale picture?

And even a good explanation of the color wheel would probably help. Thanks.

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Cant exactly help you yet, but Ive found an interesting video about going from greyscale to color. Im going to buy it and watch it as soon as i get paid for this months work, so ill share what ive learned from it once i get it :) –  K.L. Feb 22 '13 at 23:48
Worth mentioning that 'Hue, Saturation, Value' (HSV) is sometimes (e.g. in Photoshop's colour picker) referred to as 'Hue, Saturation, Brightness' (HSB). HSV and HSB are essentially the same thing (not to be confused with HSL, which is different... but you probably don't need to worry about HSL - though the diagram in that link might help). –  user568458 Feb 28 '13 at 12:38

4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Value is essentially the darkness of the pigment. Less value equates to a darker color. If you take a color and remove all hue, you are left with value - basically greyscale. Brightness is another term used for value. Often brightness is a bit easier to remember since more value means a "brighter" color.

value Basic Value scale

Saturation is essentially the depth of the pigment. More saturation means more pigment. Less saturation equates to a tint or lighter shade of the color. Luminosity is another term used for Saturation. saturation Basic saturation scale. (based on a red hue)

Hue is the base pigment.

Hue Basic Hue scale

"Color" would actually be the combination of all three of the above.

For example if you have a Hue which is red.

  • Decreasing Saturation/Luminosity will cause the red to start moving into the pink areas. Hue minus Saturation = lighter color
  • Decreasing Value/Brightness will cause the red to move into the maroon or burgundy range. Hue minus Value = darker color

Anther way to think of the relationship is to consider removing Saturation as adding white to the hue. And removing Value as adding black to the hue.

If you are coloring a greyscale image, you would use the greyscale to designate the value of the colors. To that end you would never adjust the value of the color you are using allowing the underlying greyscale tones to create darkness. You would choose a hue and a saturation, then paint over an greyscale area, setting the blending mode to Multiply or Darken to allow what you are painting to interact with the underlying image. Because you are using a base greyscale image, you would never want to create an area which is lighter than the image. The only variation would be how much color is applied, thus hue for the pigment value and saturation for the amount of pigment.

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Why would someone downvote this? Please tell me where I'm incorrect. Thanks. –  Scott Mar 1 '13 at 6:31
(I'm not the downvoter.) Value is not exactly the darkness, that is luminosity. Value is, IIRC, max(r,g,b). –  tohecz Mar 1 '13 at 17:51
Value is light to dark (steps of grey basically), or brightness, as I posted. Are you saying that's incorrect? Value is not luminosity. And Luminosity is not darkness. Luminous != brightness. Perhaps "darkness" isn't the best term. But I could think of nothing other than "brightness" or "darkness" as a synonym for Value. Suggestions? –  Scott Mar 1 '13 at 22:37
I don't know. My problem is that IMHO white is "brighter" than any other colour (and any other colour is "darker" than white), still it has the same Value as for instance pure red. It's the problem of HSL/HSV :-/ –  tohecz Mar 1 '13 at 23:56

My suggestion for creating color combinations ( H S V ), is to use 'kuler' (online or as a photoshop plugin). It's a free service.

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I don't think this answers the OP's question. –  Brendan Feb 27 '13 at 13:50
I agree with @Brendan. The OP asked what is the relationship between hue, saturation, and value. Please re-read the question. –  Matt Feb 27 '13 at 14:12

Hue: what color is it? Saturation: how much is it? Value: How dark or white is it?

If Hue is Red, and saturation is 100% then it is a different color then if Hue is Red and saturation is let's say 60%/99%/01% etc, so for the value. There is Dark Red, and so there is Light Red. As things lose Saturation, their 'lightness' is converted from color to equivalent gray/white 'lightness'.

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There is a real confusion with saturation vs value or brightness. Tints and shades change both saturation and brightness. fully saturated color has a variety of value from yellow to blue- light to dark

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Could you add a little bit of body and substance to your answer please, by expanding on the sentences you have written already? –  Mr E. Upvoter Sep 8 '13 at 18:48

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