Chroma: bright or soft

The chroma of a colour describes its saturation and clarity.

The more pigmented the colour, the brighter it appears.

When we imagine canary yellow, cobalt blue or fire-engine red, these colours are graphic, sharp, unadulterated and pure.

It’s quite obvious what colour we are looking at and it’s unlikely we would mistake these colours for any another.

These colours are bright; their chroma is high.

Other colours blend into each other and so appear dull, muted or antique.

Compare these very different examples of yellow, blue and red.

We might label them faded, dusty, smoky or misty.

It can be difficult to identify where one colour starts and the next begins.

They are gentle and mysterious.

There is nothing bright or vivid going on.

These are examples of low chroma, or soft, colours.


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