(PDFs are color managed for best printed results possible)
CONTEXT, CONTEXT, CONTEXT!
Here’s Metropolitan AF-690 by Benjamin Moore in context of its Hue Family neighborhood, 5 GY, on The Color Strategist Color Wheel. The pink arrows point to where Metropolitan AF-690 fits in among the other colors according to its Value 7.43 rounded to 7.50 and Chroma of 0.31 rounded to 0.25.
Metropolitan AF-690 belongs to the Green-Yellow (GY) hue family and it’s slightly lighter than mid-tone.
Metropolitan has a low Chroma value of 0.31. That tells us that it’s very close to a true neutral gray — the Atlas above illustrates this really well. Colors with low Chroma like Metropolitan are called near neutrals because they are literally so near a neutral gray.
Many people perceive near neutral colors, like Metropolitan, from this Green-Yellow hue family neighborhood as “just gray”. Because they don’t have the correct vocabulary to speak to color, they’ll often describe it as having “no undertones”. It’s important to not confuse the theory that colors have “undertones” with measurable hue family and I’ll talk more about that in a minute.
It’s also common for near neutrals from this hue family neighborhood to shift under certain qualities of light and look blue-ish. That doesn’t mean Metropolitan has “blue undertones” or that it’s inherently blue. It still belongs to the Green-Yellow hue family, it simply might appear bluish in certain contexts and/or under unbalanced light sources. Remember if you change the light, you change how a color appears.
Metropolitan can also show its Hue Family roots and appear green-ish. After all, it does belong to the middle of the Green-Yellow Hue Family. The Color Strategist Color Wheel in the Colorography above does a great job illustrating this for you.
Whether it appears blue, green or “just gray” when you sample it, you now know why.
You also need to know that Hue Family comes from measuring the color using a standard, repeatable quality of light and it’s the wavelength measurement that determines what hue family a color belongs to.
Hue Family is an objective piece of color data – think of it as Color DNA.
When somebody talks about undertones, it’s just their best guess. It’s not a fact. It’s their subjective opinion about how they think a color looks under whatever random light source they happen to be looking at the color under. It’s not objective, it’s not consistent or repeatable.