Art Glossary: Hue


The actual color of something, such as naphthol red, sap green, or ultramarine, or the name we give a pigment or combination of pigments. What we generally, but less technically correct, call color.

When a tube of paint says 'hue' on it, for example cadmium red hue, it means that the color will be almost identical to genuine cadmium red, but the pigment is something different. A tube of paint labelled as a 'hue' may be a cheaper or blended version, it may be that the original color is no longer produced (such as Indian yellow), or it may be that the original was not lightfast (such as Hooker's Green).

In his blog "The Truth About Hues" (30 August 2006) Mark Golden of Golden Paints pointed out that "just because something has the 'hue' designation does not mean it is a cheap imitation." He pointed out that all Golden's historical colors were "created with much greater lightfastness and consistency when compared to the original pigments. These colors provide a meaningful part of a serious palette; they are not a secondary grade of products."

What's actually in a tube of paint and the reason it's a hue is yet another instance of where, as an artist, you really need to know your pigments and colors.