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MHS Library | Visual Communication Design


-   High or low tonal key
     * High tonal key is where there is a strong separation between highlights and shadows 
     * Low tonal key: little separation between the two 
     * When photographing, a low tonal key is generally used to ensure the details are not lost 
-   Graded tone
     * The transition from one tonal value to the next (from light to dark) 

Tone is the ‘value’ of a colour. We speak about tone when we discuss ‘light’ and ‘dark’. Pictures can be made entirely from tone, without colour. This is the nature of a black and white photograph. Look below for a table of tonal values from white to black.

Tone in black and white (mono tone)

Tone can:

·   be used to represent things, objects, people or places in descriptive or symbolic ways

·   communicate emotions, feelings or ideas

·   appeal to our senses

·   be used for practical purposes.

Colours can be in different tones too. Look below for the three primary colours in different tones from light to dark.

Tone in three colours.

You can see that there are light and dark tones in these three colours. Can you tell which colours are warm or cool colours?

*Note: We need to remember not to confuse the terms ‘light and dark’ with ‘warm and cool’ colours. Both warm and cool colour can be light or dark toned. 

Source: Visual Communication Design