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  • Differnece between Saturation and Value.

    I'm having difficulty differenciating between Saturation and Value, or Intensity and Brightness. I know what brightness is, but up until now I would have considered intensity to be the same thing. I remember the contrast control on our old B&W television being able to make dark colours darker and bright ones brighter, but I don't think it's the same.

    Can anyone explain this for me, or recommend some material I should read?

    Thanks for listening,

  • #2
    Intensity = the brightness or dullness of a color
    Value = the lightness or darkness of a color (add white or black / tints for white, black for shades, gray for tones) Think paint samples where you buy house paint.

    Not sure on this one:
    Saturation = the amount of color . For example on a white background, imagine some colored blue dots. The larger the dot gets, the less white background shows and the more saturation.


    • #3
      Saturation is how much "ink" it puts down. In photoshop it tends to make the darker colors darker, and the bright colors brighter.
      My Site


      • #4
        Saturation is how much of the colour there is - whether you have a "Strong" or "weak" version of a colour.

        Intensity/Value/Brightness are basically just different ways of measuring the same thing. Which means that for most designers they really are the same thing. The differences between them only matter if you want to get into the mathematics of colour spaces. Which you probably don't.


        • #5
          Thanks for your replies everybody. I think from your answers that the reason I'm confused is that this theory is really more relevant to print / paint (subtractive) as opposed to computer graphics (additive)?

          On the HSV palette I've attached, saturation is the veritcle axis (white - pure red) and value is the horizontal (pure red to black). It looks as though Value is a continuation of the Saturation scale. But if these were essentially the same, or mirrors of each other (one brightens it, one darkens it) then the colour along the dashed axis I painted would be constant.

          So I understand a little better, thank you all. But I'm still a bit confused. I will check out the paint swatches as Tea suggested.

          Attached Files


          • #6
            The one way I learned is the value of the color can change by adding white or black to it. The intensity can be changed by adding the complement (add green to red).This is from a painting perspecitive and I think that using software deals with it differently. Adding to your confusion (and mine).

            a quick search led me to this spot which may better serve your needs-click on the HSV link in the first paragraph as well:


            • #7
              Thank you Tea, that was very helpful. It seems that when you reduce the saturation of a colour, it approaches greyness (i.e. pale), whereas when you reduce the value, it approaches blackness.(i.e. dark)

              So I think I'd summarize value as brightness, and when you reduce it, it's like turning the lights down on that colour. Reducing Saturation is like 'diluting' the colour with water.

              But as you said yourself, I think the theory only streches so far when applied to computers.

              Thanks again everybody, I can continue with my book now!



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