Thursday, October 21, 2010

Skin Tones - How To See Color And Skin Tone

Many times we see a color and think that we can accurately name it. This is also the same with skin tone. Usually we do not have it right because we have been trained to see color and skintones based on what we have been taught. This article will attempt to address the way we see these things.

The first thing to understand is that our brain determines how we see color. This usually comes from what we are told as children. We are told that the ocean is blue, when in reality it is a reflection of the blue sky on a clear day. If it's cloudy and stormy the ocean would be grey. The truth is water is clear and may reflect any colour.

 So in order to see color correctly we have to get rid of our preconceived notions of color. This can be very difficult to do, but it is worth it. It is only then you will be able to truely see something for what it is and not what you think it should be.

Black, White and Gray

Value is one of the three features of color. The other 2 are Hue and Intensity. For now let's look at value. Value is concerned with how light or dark a colour is. Shades and tints are another way of referring to value. Shades are created by adding black to a colour and tints are created by adding white. A value scale helps to determine how light or dark something is and ranges from White to black.

Value Scale

Now let's see how this applies to skintone.

Black And White Skintone?

There is a question mark here because if you have taken a good look at the value scale above, you can understand that there are no black or white skintones. As was said earlier, this is just one of our many preconceived notions about color. We are told that there are different races among humans. The different races are identified according to color. These are black, white, red, yellow, and brown. Is this really accurate?

The Color Orange and Skin Tone

In order to tackle this, we need to understand the other 2 features of color, hue and intensity. Hue is the name of a color and this only applies to what is seen on the color wheel. You have red, red-orange, orange, yellow-orange, yellow, yellow-green, green, blue-green, blue, blue-violet, violet, red-violet. So there are 12 hues in all. Fashionable names like mauve and peach do not count. They simply come from red-violet and red-orange.

The Color Wheel

Intensity is the brightness or dullness of a color. This can also be called chroma or saturation. The intensity can range from a pure hue to no color.

 Intensity Scale

So how does this apply to skintones?

All skintones come from the hue orange, with additions of white and black to form the various shades and tints. Orange and black make brown. If you add more white it becomes lighter. If black is added it becomes darker. So the reality is we are all various shades of brown and not red, black, white, yellow and brown. It's just brown. Consider the following illustration.


Various Skintones Of Real People

There may be those who closer to white or closer to black but they are never exactly white or black. Most times they are just a very pale or very dark brown. Most people on the planet fall somewhere in between.

Olive Skintones

There are many people around the world who believe that they have an olive skintone. I've always wondered about this because as far as I know olives come in two colors, black and green.

Black Olives

Green Olives

Unless your skin looks something like Hulk's, how on earth can a human being have green skin? By the way, if your skin looks greenish or has a greenish hue, that still does not make it olive green. There are people however with skintones that are olive black or at least very close to it.

Chocolate Brown Skintone

This is another one that confuses many people. My skintone is considered light brown by some and dark by others. I've even been called dark chocolate brown. It is really medium to light brown. There are two main types of processed chocolate, milk chocolate and dark chocolate. Look at the following illustration.

My Skintone

Milk Chocolate

Dark Chocolate

Do you see the difference?

Just because someone is darker compared to a lightskin person does not mean that they are super dark or very dark. It does not automatically make their skintone chocolate. If they match the following pictures of chocolate, then that's a different story.

I hope this clears up any misunderstandings concerning skin color.

1 comment:

  1. You raise a very interesting point, one that is not given much attention within the mass media. Keep up the good work.


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