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Art & Design

Elements of art

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Colour schemes

Monochromatic

Monochrome means one colour. Artwork can be created that explores the tone and intensity of a selected colour.

You can change the tone of a colour by adding its complementary colour or by adding black or white to it. Adding white to a colour creates a tint, and adding black creates a tone.

You can also alter the tone of a colour with saturation techniques. This means adding either more paint or more water. The more water that is added the lighter the tone and the more paint the darker.

Limited colour

Fairey, Shepard (b. 1970): Barack Hussein Obama. Hand-finished collage, stencil, and acrylic on heavy paper, 2008. Washington DC, National Portrait Gallery Smithsonian Institution. Sheet: 175.3 x 115.6cm (69 x 45 1/2'). Frame: 187.3 x 127 x 5.1cm (73 3/4 x 50 x 2'). Gift of the Heather and Tony Podesta Collection in honor of Mary K. Podesta. © 2011. Photo Nat. Portrait Gall. Smithsonian/Art Resource/Scala, Florence

You can select a limited number of colours and use these to represent different tones. For example, you could pick two complimentary colours, or you could use only the three primary colours. This can create a striking image.

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