Controlling color with Sass color functions


Sass comes with functions that can easily be applied to colors in your CSS properties. These functions, when used correctly, can be incredibly powerful. They take some of the sting out of choosing and manipulating colors. When used with variables, they can speed up development drastically.

creating variable for the color that we’re going to manipulate:

$base-color: #AD141E;

Darken & Lighten

These two adjust the Lightness of the color’s HSL values. Sass will parse our hex color variable to hsl, then make the adjustments. You call them on the color with a percentage value between 0 and 100. I usually stay in the range of 3-20%.

darken( $base-color, 10% )
lighten( $base-color, 10% )

Saturate, & Desaturate

These will will adjust the Saturation of the colors HSL values, much like Darken and Lighten adjusted the Lightness. Again, you need to give a percentage value to saturate and desaturate.

saturate( $base-color, 20% )
desaturate( $base-color, 20% )


This adjusts the hue value of HSL the same way all of the others do. Again, it takes a percentage value for the change.

adjust-hue( $base-color, 20% )

Adding Alpha Transparency

Using our hex color we can do a few things to get it to be a little transparent. We can call hsla, rgba, opacify, and transparentize. All of them accomplish the same thing, just in different ways. I stick to rgba as it comes most naturally to me which takes a color and a value from 0 to 1 for the alpha.

rgba( $base-color, .7 )

Tint & Shade

Our very own Phil LaPier has added to those base color functions. Both of these are accessible in Bourbon. They mix your color with a value of white (tint) and black (shade) and are similar to Darken and Lighten. They take the color and a % value for the change.

tint( $base-color, 10% )
shade( $base-color, 10% )

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