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What is a color that is mixed with white called?

When a color is mixed with white, the resulting color is called a tint. Tinting is the process of mixing a color with white to lighten the color and reduce its saturation. This creates a paler, less intense version of the original color.

What Happens When You Mix A Color With White

Mixing any color with white reduces its saturation and brightness. Saturation refers to the intensity of a color, how pure it is. Brightness refers to how light or dark a color is. Adding white makes a color less saturated and brighter.

For example, let’s start with a bright, saturated red. When white is gradually mixed in, the red becomes increasingly less saturated, turning into a pale pink. If enough white is added, the red can become a very light pink that may be hard to distinguish from white itself.

This lightening effect happens because white reflects all wavelengths of visible light evenly. When it is mixed in, the white light dilutes the pure color wavelengths that give the original color its distinct hue. With less saturation, the color pales.

Why Mixed Colors Are Called Tints

Colors that have been lightened by mixing them with white are called tints. The word “tint” refers to any lighter or less saturated version of a base color. The original, undiluted color is sometimes called the “parent” color.

For example:

  • Pink is a tint of red
  • Baby blue is a tint of blue
  • Mint green is a tint of green

The term “tint” is used to specify that the color is lighter or brighter than the original pigment. It has been diluted with white rather than darkened with black. Darkened colors are called shades rather than tints.

Tinting Colors With White Pigments

When physically mixing paints, dyes, or inks to make a tint, white pigment needs to be added to lighten the original color. Common white pigments used include:

  • Titanium white – Made from titanium dioxide, with a very bright, neutral white color.
  • Zinc white – Made from zinc oxide, with a slightly bluer tint than titanium white.
  • Lead white – Made from lead carbonate and historically important but rarely used today due to the toxicity of lead.

The white pigment is added to the base color pigment until the desired lightness and saturation is achieved. Often, mixing is started with equal parts white and color. The color remains the dominant hue as long as more of the colored pigment is used than white.

Properties of Tints

Tints have the following characteristics:

  • Higher lightness/value – They reflect more light than the original color.
  • Lower saturation – They are not as intense or vibrant.
  • Higher transparency – Applied thinly, tints are somewhat translucent compared to pure colors.
  • Same hue – The basic color remains recognizable despite dilution with white.

The lightness of a tint depends on the ratio of white added. A “light tint” has a high percentage of white, while a “strong tint” has more color and less white.

Tinting Different Color Hues

Tinting works with any starting color, but the visual effects vary depending on the original hue:

  • Warm colors – Tints mute the intensity of warm hues like red, orange, and yellow without drastically changing their appearance.
  • Cool colors – Tints of cool hues like blue and purple are more pastel-like.
  • Earth tones – Tints of earthy hues like umber and ochre become beige or cream.
  • Dark colors – Tinting dark colors like brown, gray and black subtly lightens them.

In some cases, the tinted color may start to shift in hue as more white is added. For example, tinting blue can yield shades ranging from periwinkle to a pale sky blue.

Examples of Color Tints

Here are some examples of common colors and their tints:

Color Tint
Red Pink
Orange Peach
Yellow Cream
Green Mint green
Blue Baby blue
Purple Lavender
Brown Beige
Gray Light gray

Using Color Tints

Tints serve various purposes in art, design, and decorating:

  • Pastel tints create soft, delicate effects.
  • They can mute colors without turning them into shades.
  • Tints lighten a color to complement darker shades.
  • They are used to subtly signify different versions of a product.
  • Light tints allow colors to be used in white or very light spaces.

Some examples of using tints include:

  • Diluting intense dyes to pastel versions for clothing or Easter eggs.
  • Adding white to paint for highlights, gradients, and color mixing.
  • Producing multiple tints of a color for logos, product lines, etc.
  • Tinting interior wall colors to offset bold accent walls.
  • Tinting wood stain to create varied natural wood tones.

Creating Tints of Any Color

Tinting a color is simple with the right artistic medium. Here are some ways to produce tints:

  • Paint – Mix white acrylic paint or tempera into the color a little at a time until the desired lightness is reached.
  • Colored pencils – Layer lighter strokes of the color over white paper.
  • Markers – Use limited ink and avoid resaturating to dilute the color.
  • Digital art – Adjust saturation and brightness settings or mix with white.
  • Dye – Add white dye or bleaching agents to textiles before dyeing.
  • Cosmetics – Combine foundations or powders a few shades lighter than your skin tone to tint them.

The amount of white needed varies based on the original color and medium used. Start with small amounts and mix thoroughly for even dilution.

Subtle Effects of Tinting

While tinting with white makes colors lighter, it can have other subtle effects as well:

  • Muting intensity – The colored pigments are overwhelmed by white, greying the vibrancy.
  • Increasing transparency – The white pigments prevent covering opacity even with multiple layers.
  • Cooling warmth – Warm and bright colors become more neutral and relaxing when tinted.
  • Warming coolness – Cool or dark colors visually gain some warmth from white.

These effects make tints feel soothing, vintage, faded, or refreshed compared to the parent color. Even dark colors seem to lighten slightly when just a touch of white is mixed in.

Relationship to Tones and Shades

Tint refers specifically to a lighter color produced by adding white rather than just any lightened color. Two other terms for lightness are:

  • Tone – Made by adding gray, both white and black.
  • Shade – Made by adding black to darken the color.

Adding gray as tone creates a more muted, hazy color. Adding black produces a darker, richer shade. But only white makes an actual tint.

Potential Drawbacks of Tinting

While tinting with white has its benefits, there are a few potential drawbacks:

  • Over-tinting can make colors look washed out or faded.
  • Tints have lower contrast from the original color.
  • They can be hard to match precisely across different paints, inks, etc.
  • Bright, intense colors lose their striking visual impact.

To avoid issues, add white carefully and test the tints produced. Make sure there is enough contrast for visual clarity. Consider whether tinting overly distorts the original color for your purposes.

When Not to Tint a Color

Some instances where you may not want to tint a color include:

  • High contrast, graphic designs.
  • Projects where color intensity matters.
  • Darker shades are needed to stand out against white.
  • Vibrancy should be maintained for visual impact.
  • Colors being matched precisely across materials.

If the original color characteristics are important, tinting may overly dilute them. Full saturation may be better than a pale, weaker tint.


In summary, a color mixed with white is called a tint. Tinting lightens and softens colors by reducing their saturation. Any hue can be tinted by adding white pigment, paint, ink, or digital effects until the desired lightness is reached. Tinting provides pastel versions of colors that can be delicate, soothing, or vintage-looking compared to the original hue. While tinting works best for some applications, highly saturated colors lose their vibrancy, so it may not be ideal in all cases.