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What Do Monochromatic Colors Mean in Art? We Explain in Detail

What Do Monochromatic Colors Mean in Art?
Want to know what monochromatic colors in art are? These are the different shades, tones and tints of the same color. Find all you need to know as we explain in detail how you can make and use monochromatic colors.
Christina Andrew
Last Updated: Feb 23, 2018
Did You Know?
Different proportions of black, white and gray can make different shades, tones and tints of any color!
Monochromatic colors are the tints, shades and tones of a single hue. You can actually do a lot with a single color. Your whole painting can be done with one of the twelve colors from the color wheel! If you don't know what a color wheel is, let me tell you, that it is composed of primary, secondary and tertiary colors. Primary colors are the basic colors - red, yellow and blue. Secondary colors are those that are created by mixing primary colors - orange, purple and green. Tertiary colors are created by mixing either one primary with one secondary, or two secondary colors, or a full saturation of primary color and a half saturation of another primary color. All of these colors add up to twelve and form the RYB (red, yellow, blue) color wheel.

So, monochromatic colors can be created for any of these twelve colors from the color wheel. Let's take a look at the color wheel now!
Color wheel
Color Wheel
Monochromatic colors in art
Mono orange color graphics illustration
Graphic illustration
Mono red and black color oil paint on canvas
Oil paints on canvas
Can you see the different shades of the color orange in the graphic illustration and of red in the oil painting right? These are all just slight variations of the original colors! Just by adding some white, gray and black to the original color, so many shades, tints and tones can be created.
Monochromatic color schemes
Courgette green color
Color green
A color scheme is a set of colors that are chosen in such a way that they look good together and complement each other. They can be contrasting or in harmony. A basic color scheme is black text on white background. While this is a contrast color scheme, monochromatic colors which are also a color scheme, are in unison with the original color.
For example, in the above image we see seven different shades/tints/tones of green. Now these are nothing but monochromatic colors, which can be made by mixing different proportions of white, gray and black.
Courgette yellow color
Color yellow
In the same way we see different shades/tints/tones of yellow. There are 5 shades in this color scheme which are made by mixing white, gray and black with yellow. Many other shades of yellow can be created like this.
Pictures of monochromatic colors
Mono blue sky color
Blue skies and mountain
Mono yellow tree
Yellow leaves of a tree
These are photographs that portray monochromatic colors. The blue hue of sky blending in with blue of the mountains and tree with shades of yellow leaves.
How to mix monochromatic colors
Mono color palette
Color palette
An easy illustration will show you how the mixing of white, gray and black works with different colors, to give you tint, tone and shade. Remember, different proportions will give you variation of colors.
Taking the orange color, we see how it changes to different colors when we mix white, gray and black. The most important thing with colors is to experiment with them. That's how you will learn, and that's how you will enjoy painting!
Blue Diamond Background