What does it mean and how do I get a darker shade of a given color. For example if I have the color

R = 53, G = 140, B = 205


H = 204, S = 74, B = 80, 



What value do I change in Adobe Illustrator CS5 or Above Photoshop so that I get a more darker/solid/bold look of the same color?


4 Answers 4


As CK1 says, getting a darker variant of a colour using HSB/HSV and HSL (Hue, Saturation, Brightness/Value or Lightness) scales is easy. Reduce the variable that corresponds to brightness, lightness or value. In both HSL and HSV, that takes you straight down towards black, keeping the same hue and saturation. (HSB is basically the same as HSV)

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In RGB scales (and remember that both RGB and CMYK colours can be manipulated using HSB/HSL), it's also pretty easy. Reduce the amount of Red,Green, and Blue by the same relative amount - resulting in less light but the same ratio between each type of light. If you think of it like a 3D cube where Red,Green,Blue each have a dimension...

enter image description here Image source

...you can think of it as simply moving in a straight line from wherever your colour is in the cube, towards the black corner (0 Red, 0 Green, 0 Blue), away from the white corner (255 Red, 255 Green, 255 Blue).

Hex codes are just RGB values written in Hexadecimal format. The first two characters after the # are Red, then Blue, then Green. Hexadecimal means counting in base 16, which looks like this:













1A=twenty six

1B=twenty seven


FE=two hundred and fifty four

FF=two hundred and fifty five

The internet is full of formulas and snippets of code to convert hexadecimals to regular (base-ten) numbers.


For the RGB spectrum, black is 0,0,0 and white is 255,255,255. So if R = 53, G = 140, B = 205, then a darker version would be R = 33, G = 120, B = 185 and a lighter version is R = 73, G = 160, B = 225. Your mileage may vary. You'll have to play with the values to see what gives you the colors you want.

Hex is the same as RGB, just done in a different way. Hex breaks out into three pairs of base-16 digits. If you're not familiar with base 16, it's counting to 10 using 16 digits instead of 10. Thus, you'd count like this: 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 0A 0B 0C 0D 0E 0F 10. FF in base 16 = 255 in base 10. For #358CCD, 35 is the red value, 8C is the green value, and CD is the blue value. #000000 is black, and #FFFFFF is white, so decreasing or increasing each color value gets you darker and lighter, respectively.

  • Right but how did you arrive at the values R = 33, G = 120, B = 185 for darker shade?
    – Jawad
    Oct 29, 2012 at 19:04
  • Oh. I get it. You just -20 from all. Right?
    – Jawad
    Oct 29, 2012 at 19:11
  • Yeah. RGB simulates light, so picture 0 being no light and 255 being as much red or green or blue light as possible (with all three coming together to form white). So, the lower the number = the less light = the darker the color.
    – Brendan
    Oct 29, 2012 at 19:25
  • And they have to be the "same relative amount" as @user568458 suggests?
    – Jawad
    Oct 29, 2012 at 19:28
  • If you're looking for absolute rules in the design world, you'll often be disappointed. However, in general I'd say yes. The best way to figure it out is to try it yourself!
    – Brendan
    Oct 29, 2012 at 19:42

As others have stated, HSB is a good way to play with value shifts. Often, I have my base colors defined and I might need a variation to support a gradient or highlight in my CSS. For these kinds of experiements, I like to use 0to255.com for generating value ranges.

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I asked a similar question a while ago and from what I understand the best/easiest way to accomplish a darker (or lighter) shade of whatever color you have is to use the HSL (or HSB/HSV) model and adjust the L (lightness) value (or B/V values in other models) up and down as needed.

In the example you've given you can take the H = 204, S = 74, B = 80 and move the B = 80 down to B = 40 and see that you have a darker shade of the same color.

  • That gives a way too different color. Almost like RGB(31, 73, 125)
    – Jawad
    Oct 29, 2012 at 19:08
  • Yeah I know the example I gave was extreme...I usually increment / decrement the lightness by 10 or 15 to get a nice highlight shade so try bumping the lightness down to 65 or 70. Oct 29, 2012 at 21:35

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