Take the 2-minute tour ×
Graphic Design Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for Graphic Design professionals, students, and enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Colors below seem to share some kind of "tone" together. For example, colors like this or this seem too bright to fit into this group.

What exactly makes this "tone"? I want some technical information, so that if I want to add purple to this group or create a different group of colors, I can find the exact HTML color codes I need.

enter image description here

Screenshot taken from here

share|improve this question
I believe that they all share the same saturation level. –  DA01 Mar 22 '14 at 21:45
Oh I know this! All five are in a screen shot you posted to a question!! Did I win, didi I ??? :) –  Scott Mar 23 '14 at 2:40
No @Scott, As Cliff Clavin would answer: "What are five colors that have never been in my kitchen, Alex?" –  Doug.McFarlane Mar 27 '14 at 19:24

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I'll take a shot. There's nothing unique about the colors you displayed-- they are similar in that they all fall in a small range of both saturation and brightness, but there isn't similar tone or hue to them and they're not under any specific color harmony. (that I'm aware of at least)

As a thought experiment I'm going to take the same colors you provided and rotate all of there hue values 45 degrees.

Original 45 degree rotated

So now we have colors that share the same saturation and brightness as the ones before, however we shifted there hue.


As you can see there is the same amount of relationship technically between the first and second colors, they don't fit a particularly color harmony and to be honest I'm just as uncomfortable saying the first are related as I to saying the second are related.

You are better off creating from known color harmonies, such as a Tetrad color harmony. These are also easier to change programatically because they are based off set hue variations between the colors. In terms of generating a hex code you would need to create a algorithm that converts hsl values into hex or simply use hsl which are supported in CSS although you have a problem with IE8 and below. (There are polyfills that provide support that can be found with a google search)

Tetrad Tetrad Wheel

share|improve this answer
Thank you. Tetrad colors give only four colors. So I can probably shift the tetrads to create other colors I need? –  CookieMonster Mar 22 '14 at 23:16
There are many color harmonies, a commonality is that they are usually a set hue value away from each other. What's difficult is that you are trying to apply a programmatic approach to a more objective question of whether colors 'fit' together. The best advice I can give is find a pallete or harmony that you think works and try making hue shifts on all of the colors to see if they still 'fit' –  Adam Schuld Mar 22 '14 at 23:22
IMO, your rotated palette has a lot more apparent variation in saturation and luminosity than the original. I'd presume that's because the software you used to rotate it didn't use a gamma-corrected and/or visually uniform color space. –  Ilmari Karonen Mar 23 '14 at 2:43
There's no change in saturation between the colors, only the hue value was rotated. I rechecked and the relative values of saturation and brightness were all the same. You are right though, a hue rotation would slightly change the gamma levels of individual colors. +1 if you explain the relevance of gamma change in perceived brightness because to be honest, I don't quite understand it technically. –  Adam Schuld Mar 23 '14 at 21:45

Visually, all the colors in your screenshot appear to share a fairly similar lightness and saturation level. They're not quite the same, but they're pretty close.

One reason why that's not necessarily obvious from the RGB or even the HSL / HSV representation of the colors is that even HSL / HSV is a rather perceptually non-uniform color space: colors that have the same HSL "lightness" value can have very different apparent lightness depending on their hue, and vice versa.

The problem is compounded by the fact that the raw RGB color values you have are most likely gamma-encoded, and would first have to be converted to a linear color space before you can do any useful colorimetry with them.

If you want to find an additional color that has a similar perceptual lightness and saturation to your original colors, you basically have two options:

  1. Just eyeball it. Start with the simple HSL / HSV representation, change the hue value to what you want, and then manually adjust the lightness and saturation until it looks good. I suspect this is what the original designer of the palette did.

  2. Convert the colors to a perceptually uniform color space like CIECAM02 (after gamma-decoding, if necessary), and rotate the hue in that color space. This should give results the require much less hand-tuning, but unfortunately requires finding some software that supports such a color model (or doing the rather non-trivial math yourself).

share|improve this answer

This is the Hue parameter changes in HSB color system

your picture with Hue adjustment

enter image description here

share|improve this answer
Where do these numbers come from? All of these colors seem to have a different HSB values. –  CookieMonster Mar 22 '14 at 21:03
it is very difficult to explain, but the DISTANCE between the parameter is close to be the same through the colors on primary picture. I think, if you want to make similar "tone" - you take any of the colors in the picture and play with a Hue parameter.... –  Ilan Mar 22 '14 at 21:06
it is not linear dependance though –  Ilan Mar 22 '14 at 21:08
Thanks, but I need that difficult explanation so that I can find the exact HTML codes, That was why I started this question. I am a software engineer and not a designer, so I almost know nothing about the color theory. –  CookieMonster Mar 22 '14 at 21:10
probably the easiest way is set HSB color you like and after that convert it to RGB numbers getting hex of R-G-B for the HTML... ps.I am sure you will get very deep explanation soon... –  Ilan Mar 22 '14 at 21:12

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.