This post presents an extension of UIColor supporting lighter and darker variants of a UIColor. Following the method in this post will allow you to generate lighter or darker variants of a UIColor on demand.

Get Slightly Lighter and Darker Color Variations

The first step is to extract red, green, blue, and alpha components from the current UIColor. Then, to each color component, add a componentDelta to make the color lighter or darker. Each color component value is between 0 and 1.

extension UIColor {
    private func makeColor(componentDelta: CGFloat) -> UIColor {
        var red: CGFloat = 0
        var blue: CGFloat = 0
        var green: CGFloat = 0
        var alpha: CGFloat = 0
        // Extract r,g,b,a components from the
        // current UIColor
            green: &green,
            blue: &blue,
            alpha: &alpha
        // Create a new UIColor modifying each component
        // by componentDelta, making the new UIColor either
        // lighter or darker.
        return UIColor(
            red: add(componentDelta, toComponent: red),
            green: add(componentDelta, toComponent: green),
            blue: add(componentDelta, toComponent: blue),
            alpha: alpha

Safely Add RGBA Component Values

Each color component value must be between 0 and 1. To ensure adding a componentDelta does not result in a value less than 0 or greater than 1, use the following function:

extension UIColor {    
    // Add value to component ensuring the result is 
    // between 0 and 1
    private func add(_ value: CGFloat, toComponent: CGFloat) -> CGFloat {
        return max(0, min(1, toComponent + value))

Make A UIColor Lighter, Darker

The last step is to implement the interface for obtaining a lighter or darker color. Modify the componentDelta value to control how much lighter or darker the resulting UIColor is.

extension UIColor {
    func lighter(componentDelta: CGFloat = 0.1) -> UIColor {
        return makeColor(componentDelta: componentDelta)
    func darker(componentDelta: CGFloat = 0.1) -> UIColor {
        return makeColor(componentDelta: -1*componentDelta)

UIColor Extension For Slightly Lighter Or Darker Colors

That’s it! With the UIColor extension you can use lighter and darker UIColors on demand, for example:

let redColor =
let lightRed = redColor.lighter()
let darkRed = redColor.darker()
Example of lighter and darker UIColors generated using the UIColor extension
Example of lighter and darker UIColors generated using the UIColor extension