When reviewing logo concepts submitted from designers, I want to ask them to include a single-color gray version, like something that would be stamped in a background. Is there a name for this in the graphic design world?

  • See my answer below: another way would be to ask for a screened-tint of the line copy. Then specify the screen as a %. Start with a 10% which should work. Make 2% adjustments to suit your stationery.
    – Stan
    Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 22:09

7 Answers 7


There's a simple word for this:



Ideally you're hiring designers that are skilled at presenting their work to you. A skilled designer will take into consideration the project requirements and present designs that accommodate said requirements. MOST (thought not all) logo designs typically will require the use of one-color versions and, at least at the early stages, most logo designs are presented in one color versions.

As for terminology, it's 'one color' or, perhaps 'black and white'.

  • DA01- "most logo designs are presented in one color versions"- that's what I thought too, but I'm using 99 designs and almost no ones doing it- I just wanted to know how to give them instructions to do so.
    – Yarin
    Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 18:14
  • 4
    "but I'm using 99 designs" = that's your problem. Those folks aren't professional designers. You rarely get what you pay for on that site (which is little to begin with).
    – DA01
    Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 19:09
  • 1
    DA01- Couldn't agree more- first and last time on 99 Designs- mea culpa
    – Yarin
    Commented Mar 14, 2012 at 15:34

Monochrome is the use of one shade or color. Images using only shades of grey are called greyscale, but the use of "black and white" will do the job just as well.

  • I believe the term reserved for neutrals is achromatic (having no colour.)
    – Stan
    Commented Sep 4, 2013 at 6:18
  • Yes, in some cases that is correct, in others, there are undertones of color. You will notice that I did not use the terminology "achromatic" or "neutral" because that is not what the question was about. "I want to ask them to include a single-color gray version,"--my use is correct if you look at the definition of monochrome("describes paintings, drawings, design, or photographs in one color or shades of one color."-wiki) and grey("Grey or gray is an intermediate color between black and white,"-wiki).
    – Kate
    Commented Sep 4, 2013 at 17:00
  • Never said you were incorrect. I was merely adding a term and its qualifier. We are a bunch of nit-pickers in search for accuracy and occasionally added detail.
    – Stan
    Commented Sep 4, 2013 at 19:12
  • Fair enough. Enjoy.
    – Kate
    Commented Sep 5, 2013 at 20:01

A single color is known as spot color.

That's all you need to say. Don't say grey: that is both the name of a color AND and a term for the range of "colors" (256 of them in 8-bit CG).

  • Black is usually not considered a spot colour. Black is the printer's favourite colour, in fact. It is part of the normal four standard-colour process colours. Spot colours are "mixed" colours that will add to the cost of the job unnecessarily in the case of black. No, Do that and you'll be spotted for a novice.
    – Stan
    Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 21:55
  • "Black" appears nowhere in my answer. The OP is asking for a spot color. He/she said "grey" in an ambiguous way which might refer to providing a greyscale computerized image which would be screened and printed one color. I note that your comment to the OP has more useful information than your actual answer: if the OP wants to print a solid black line drawing in a "faded version of [any] color" then a "X% screen tint of [color]" is certainly a good way to state it.
    – horatio
    Commented Sep 3, 2013 at 15:46
  • Sorry, I reacted to your use of grey in your example. Grey to me is a tint of black. My comments were made at different times. My mind works like that. By the way, A single colour is not known as spot colour. Maybe I should ask where is a single colour known as a spot colour. Please refine your definition.
    – Stan
    Commented Sep 4, 2013 at 6:30
  • Any color which required a special ink and has its own plate is a spot color. CMYK are in fact spot colors in the same way that a square is a rectangle. They are very specific spot colors called the "process colors."
    – horatio
    Commented Sep 4, 2013 at 14:53
  • You are incorrect.
    – Stan
    Commented Sep 4, 2013 at 19:06

Ask the designer to include "a single-colour grey version like something that would be stamped in the background." Then show a sample if you can find one.

As you can see, even if you know the right term (a grey watermark — a "watermark" is barely visible and not very detailed). Many know it by another name and clear communications is what you should strive to attain. Describe what you want in the most clear terms available. It is an asset to be armed with the right terminology; but, that doesn't mean the contractor is aware of it. We are visual. Be redundant.

So, both sides must be precise in their communication. Visual artists can illustrate unambiguously while words can be vague when trying to describe concept.


The stamp in the background is known as a watermark.

A one color image would be monochrome.

  • Just as a semantic question, can a gray-scale image be considered monochrome?
    – Hanna
    Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 17:26
  • Ryan- thanks, but as Johannes points out, monochrome means 1 color but can have different shadings. Like gray scale. I'm looking for the black & white equivilant.
    – Yarin
    Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 17:27
  • In your question you asked for one color which to me means you don't want to pay a printer to use more then one color which is what monochrome gets you. A gray-scale image is considered monochrome because it would only use black ink. I'm not familiar with any set term otherwise especially if you wanted gray. Your best bet is to say a "one-color logo" or "solid gray logo" although that is weird and easier to just say "solid black logo"
    – Ryan
    Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 17:43
  • Ryan- this has nothing to do with printing- most modern logos have a flat one-color representation and just wanted to know if there's a name for it
    – Yarin
    Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 18:15
  • 1
    @Johannes Yes. There is only one hue. A value scale of hues is a monochrome. One hue would be a monotone.
    – Stan
    Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 22:05

I think I got this.

a single-color gray version

According to me it would be like using a main color such as blue and the light shade of the same blue will be the gray version of the same, we use the same technique in all other color's also.

If you are familiar with tint and shades than you can use this term to make designer understand. such as you can say use the light shade of red with this killing(blood) red show me some more tints and shades of the same color which goes well with this.

And that would be more easy for you and for the designer if you show them any example logo which clearly says your word look how beautifully logo is stamped in this background i need such looks and feels in my logo too.

A good read from my point of view, if you have spare time : Color harmony Logo

Hope this will help a bit..

  • Nomenclature Nazi: A tint is a hue containing white. A shade is a hue containing black. A tone is a hue containing white and black. Grey is a tint of black. A "light shade of red" should be re-worded to "light tint of red."
    – Stan
    Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 21:33
  • @Stan, feel free to make edits where you see fit.
    – Hanna
    Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 21:51

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