Get to Know with Monochromatic Color – A Guide to Monochromatic Design (Part 1)

  • by Nikolas Noel
  • December 07, 2022
  • 5 minutes read


Graphic design and branding require a diverse color palette. From there, you can express different emotions and personalities depending on the color combination you choose. It can be difficult to choose a color scheme for your design. Where do you start if you’re starting from scratch without a style guide or any kind of information about client preferences? One option is to choose a color scheme inspired by classic color theory. Color theory can assist designers in using color in ways that are useful and aesthetically pleasing. One of them is the use of monochromatic color combinations.

While using a wide variety of colors in your design may be appealing, a monochromatic color scheme, or a palette consisting of only one color, does not make your design terrible. Precisely using monochromatic colors can give a unique effect to your design. Here we will first discuss what monochromatic color is.

Monochromatic color

Let’s review the terminology used to describe single-color palettes before we begin. The predominant color family consists of hues or pure colors. There are 12 hues on the conventional color wheel, each of which is made up of a primary, secondary, and tertiary color. Red, yellow, and blue is the three primary hues. Orange, violet, and green are secondary hues. Like red-orange or yellow-green, tertiary hues fall between the main and secondary color categories.

The Greek term monochromos, meaning “having one color”, is the origin of the word “monochromatic”. A monochromatic palette consists of one primary color presented in a variety of tints, tones, and shades. Monochromatic in short is colors that are all variations of the same hue.

Hue is usually calculated as a single number, which often corresponds to the angular position about a central or neutral point or axis on a color space coordinate chart (such as a chromaticity chart) or color wheel, as well as the dominant or complementary wavelength of color. Other color appearance characteristics are clarity, saturation (also called intensity or chroma), lightness, and brightness.

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In monochromatic colors, the hue used is the hue of the same color. Typically, hues of the same color are differentiated using adjectives that describe their brightness or vibrancy, such as “light blue,” “pastel blue,” “vibrant blue,” and “cobalt blue”.

Difference between tints, tones, and shades

We have already discussed that monochromatic colors differ in tints, tones, and shades. What is the difference between the three? The following is an explanation of tints, tones, and shades.


Tints are provided by adding white to color. This modifies the lightness of a color. Tints include pastel hues. That is why tints can be also called pastel. A real tint is specifically defined by color theory as a hue or combination of pure color and white. A pure hue and white, which is lighter than the original color, are mixed to create a tint.

Tint can be thought of as the amount of white that is added to a pure hue when employed as a dimension of a color space. A lighter hue of the color results from adding additional white. The paler shades of red are seen in the above illustration.

It simply refers to the outcome that is produced when white is added to any color. The tint is always a lighter variation of the color that is dominating. For instance, light blue is a tint of blue, and pink is a tint of red. The color scheme of the tints is typically gentle, vivacious, and calming.

The color is frequently used in feminine settings. If women are the target audience for an advertisement or marketing campaign, hot and pale pastel colors are recommended to be used.


Shades are generated by adding black to color. This modifies the darkness of a color. For instance, maroon is created when mixing red and black, and navy blue is created when combining blue and black. Shade is merely the union of color and black, to put it simply.

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Shade can be thought of as the amount of black that is added to a pure hue when employed as a dimension of a color space. Shade makes the color darker. The color of the shade remains the same, however, it is now a darker variation of the original color.

Black can be blended with any of the twelve primary colors. This implies that one can transition from a very dark, almost black hue or color to a scarcely shaded pure hue or color.

Shades are dark, strong, and enigmatic. Dark colors look good in a manly setting. They perform best as black accents in artistic creations and promotional images. Black tends to be used sparingly by most artists since it can quickly overpower your primary color.


Tones are provided by combining the addition of black and white (grey) to the color. This modifies the vibrance of color. Pure colors are strong, vibrant, and saturated. A color gets dulled when grey is added to it. You may achieve those serene, neutral color palettes and earth tones in this way, despite the fact that it may not sound pleasant. An addition of grey to the color mixture could greatly affect its value and intensity.

Final Words

The color family of a single hue is represented by each section of the color wheel. Each version of the hue has a slight difference, and together they would form a monochromatic color pallet.

Each of your design elements will be a variety of tints, hues, and tones based on one chosen base color when using this color scheme. You may be creative and express yourself in any way you like with a monochrome scheme, from bright and dramatic to cool and subdued, because there are alternatives for each hue.


El is a chemistry teacher and graphic designer, two combinations that some people question. Still, graphic design is a skill he enjoys outside of his career as a chemistry teacher. Through the world of graphics, El finds love and relieves boredom outside of the chemical experiments that many of his students are confused about at school. He wants to continue providing the best work amidst other busyness.

One response to “Get to Know with Monochromatic Color – A Guide to Monochromatic Design (Part 1)”

  1. Celine says:

    This article is really helpful, thank you for sharing

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