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kottke.org posts about color

Blue color without blue color

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 18, 2014

There’s no blue pigment present in the wings of the morpho butterfly. So where does that shimmering brilliant blue color come from? It’s an instance of structural color, where the physical structure of the surface scatters or refracts only certain wavelengths of light…in this case, blue.

Eye color is another example of structural color in action. Eyes contain brown pigments but not blue. Blue, green, and hazel eyes are caused by Rayleigh scattering, the same phenomenon responsible for blue skies and red sunsets. Blue eyes and blue skies arise from the same optical process…that’s almost poetic. (thx, jared)

ROYGBIV is arbitrary

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 29, 2014

In a short video from The Atlantic, science writer Philip Ball explains why Isaac Newton picked ROYGBIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet) for the colors of the spectrum and not 3 or 6 or even 16 other possible colors.

Newton was the first to demonstrate through his famous prism experiments that color is intrinsic to light. As part of those experiments, he also divvied up the spectrum in his own idiosyncratic way, giving us ROYGBIV. Why indigo? Why violet? We don’t really know why Newton decided there were two distinct types of purple, but we do know he thought there should be seven fundamental colors.

Ball is the author of Bright Earth: Art and the Invention of Color, which looks pretty interesting. His mention in the video of the changing perception of color throughout history reminds me of my favorite segment of Radiolab, which covers that very topic.

Traffic organized by color

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 18, 2013

Artist Cy Kuckenbaker digitally reorganized the traffic in this video by color.

(via http://stellar.io/interesting)

All the colors, once each

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 17, 2013

In the parlance of NYC graffiti enthusiasts, going “all city” means getting your stuff known all over the five boroughs. Now a group of designers are challenging each other to go “all RGB”, to make images that contain all of the 16.7 million colors that make up the RGB spectrum once each. This entry is amazing because it still looks like an actual photograph when you zoom out (many others do not):

All RGB

You can find many more entries on allRGB.com or make your own using this code on GitHub. (via digg)

Why isn’t the sky blue?

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 23, 2012

This segment of the most recent episode of Radiolab about color is super interesting. It seems that people haven’t always seen colors in the same way we do today.

What is the color of honey, and “faces pale with fear”? If you’re Homer—one of the most influential poets in human history—that color is green. And the sea is “wine-dark,” just like oxen…though sheep are violet. Which all sounds…well, really off. Producer Tim Howard introduces us to linguist Guy Deutscher, and the story of William Gladstone (a British Prime Minister back in the 1800s, and a huge Homer-ophile). Gladstone conducted an exhaustive study of every color reference in The Odyssey and The Iliad. And he found something startling: No blue! Tim pays a visit to the New York Public Library, where a book of German philosophy from the late 19th Century helps reveal a pattern: across all cultures, words for colors appear in stages. And blue always comes last.

It’s worth listening to the whole thing…the bit at the end with the linguist’s daughter and the color of the sky is especially cool.

Pantone colors of human flesh

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 09, 2012

Artist Angelica Dass pairs photographs of people with the Pantone colors of their skin colors.

Humanae

More of the project can be found on her Tumblr. (via designboom)

How colors get their names

posted by Aaron Cohen   Jul 04, 2012

On this day full of red, white, and blue in the US, it’s interesting to note that, in a large number of languages, when colors start getting their own words, red is usually the first color defined after black and white (or light and dark), and that blue and green are often not defined individually, at least at first. Those facts and more in this super long/interesting article about color and language and how colors got their names and and and…just read it already. Here’s part 2.

The figure above is really telling a story. What it says is this. If a language has just two color terms, they will be a light and a dark shade - blacks and whites. Add a third color, and it’s going to be red. Add another, and it will be either green or yellow - you need five colors to have both. And when you get to six colors, the green splits into two, and you now have a blue. What we’re seeing here is a deeply trodden road that most languages seem to follow, towards greater visual discernment (92 of their 98 languages seemed to follow this basic route).

Also note the Wikipedia entry for “distinguishing blue from green in language.” (via The Millions)

Olafur Eliasson’s rainbow panorama

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 02, 2011

Olafur Eliasson’s latest project is now on display at the ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum in Denmark…it’s a circular viewing platform with rainbow-hued glass.

Olafur Eliasson Rainbow

Crayon colors

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 03, 2011

This Wikipedia page has HTML hex codes for all of the 133 standard Crayola crayon colors, including Silver, Blue Green, Melon, Wild Strawberry, and Forest Green.

iPhone app corrects for color blindness

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 16, 2010

Dan Kaminsky’s iPhone/Android app corrects for color blindness (in anomalous trichromats anyway)…just point your phone at what you want to see in color and make a few adjustments.

The vast majority of color blind people are in fact what are known as anomalous trichromats. They still have three photoreceptors, but the ‘green’ receptor is shifted a bit towards red. The effect is subtle: Certain reds might look like they were green, and certain greens might look like they were red.

Thus the question: Was it possible to convert all reds to a one true red, and all greens to a one true green?

The answer: Yes, given an appropriate colorspace.

Andy Baio, who is colorblind, says emphatically: “it works”. (thx, derek)

Painted Greek statues

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 30, 2010

I remember reading that Greek and Roman statues were originally painted, but I didn’t know that through the use of modern scientific equipment, we actually know how they looked.

Colorful Greek Statues

(via @brainpicker)

Flickr seasons

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 12, 2010

This visualization represents a year in color (summer is at the top, winter at the bottom).

Flickr seasons

The images were taken of the Boston Common, courtesy of Flickr.

Coloring without the lines

posted by Ainsley Drew   Mar 26, 2009

Brooke Inman’s Everything Color Circle is mesmerizing. As somebody with limited organizational skills, I find it mind-boggling that she was able to put this together. And to think that it could be destroyed in a nanosecond if a sugar-addled kindergartner armed with construction paper wandered into the room. (via design milk)

Cory Arcangel, Adult Contemporary

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 14, 2008

Cory Arcangel has a new show opening tonight at Team Gallery in Soho called Adult Contemporary. I got a peek at it last night and my favorite piece is called Photoshop CS: 110 by 72 inches, 300 DPI, RGB, square pixels, default gradient “Spectrum”, mousedown y=1098 x=1749.9, mouse up y=0 4160 x=0. It’s easy enough to whip up your own by following those instructions in Photoshop but the print itself is gorgeous. When you get up close to it, there is no discernible gradation between the colors and, because it’s so uniform and smooth and glossy and big, you lose your sense of depth perception and you don’t really know how close you are to it. I almost fell over looking at it because I was so disoriented.

Pantone Rubik’s Cube

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 29, 2008

Turn the left slice topwise in style: Pantone + Rubik’s Cube = Pantone Rubik’s Cube. (via monoscope)

Choosing Flickr photos by color

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 22, 2008

Idée Multicolr Search Lab is pretty amazing. You select up to ten colors and it returns Flickr photos with those colors. I couldn’t stop playing with this.

Night colors of Van Gogh

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 22, 2008

Color palettes taken from a MoMA exhibition of nighttime paintings by Vincent van Gogh. Review of the show by the NY Times.

Purple and red and yellow and on fire

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 18, 2008

An exploded toner cartridge.

Accidents should always be this beautiful.

(via chrisglass)

The color of bruises

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 05, 2008

COLOURlovers, the site that takes inspiration from colors in the real world to make design palettes, today has a collection of palettes inspired by some wickedly vibrant bruises.

The pretty colors of salt evaporation ponds

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 19, 2008

COLOURlovers draws out some color palettes from salt evaporation ponds from around the world. If you’ve ever flown into San Francisco, you may have seen the salt ponds at the south end of the bay.

Darkest material

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 16, 2008

All blacks are not created equal…a team at Rensselaer and Rice University have created the world’s darkest material. Plain old black paint reflects between 5 and 10 percent of incident light; the new material reflects only 0.045%. (via animamundi)

Related to last month’s post about monochromatic

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 11, 2008

Related to last month’s post about monochromatic outfits, here’s some photos of children who do the same thing, pink for the girls and blue for the boys.

korean artist jeongmee yoon’s ‘pink and blue project’ was inspired by her daughter. she would only wear pink and buy pink toys.

I find it interesting/odd that the children, some of whom aren’t more than five years old, are the ones presumed to be making the color choice here. (via a.whole)

Profiles of 5 New Yorkers that dress in

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 21, 2008

Profiles of 5 New Yorkers that dress in only one color.

Why gray?
I actually wore turquoise for eight years, but last September, I switched to gray. I’d had a bad year and needed to get out of it.

That’s a big switch.
I like everything to be clean, and gray is clean. Gray is between black and white, so it’s a noncolor, almost. I feel messy and unclean if I wear other colors.

Where do you shop?
I make all my own clothes. I can’t wear anyone else’s.

What about shoes?
That’s hard because even the soles of my shoes have to be gray or white. I get annoyed if the soles are black.

Buzzfeed has more on monochromatic outfits.

Simple little web page: What Color is

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 14, 2008

Simple little web page: What Color is the Empire State Building? Includes an explanation of why…today it’s red/pink/white for Valentine’s Day.

Wear Palettes takes the outfits showcased in

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 10, 2007

Wear Palettes takes the outfits showcased in street fashion photos snapped by The Sartorialist and makes color palettes. 1500 different palettes so far.

Functional color

posted by Adam Lisagor   Dec 05, 2007

Color Matters examines four legal battles over color trademark infringement in packaging and branding, each decided by a test of “color functionality.”

The U.S. courts denied Ambrit’s request for protection of blue, on the basis that royal blue when used to package frozen desserts was functional and could not be monopolized in a trademark. The ruling stated “Royal blue is a ‘cool color;’ it is suggestive of coldness and used by a multitude of ice cream and frozen dessert producers.” Although the ruling acknowledged the issue of protecting the consumer from confusion, preventing a monopoly of a functional color was a greater issue.

(via CG Explorer)

Martian colors

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 12, 2007

Synesthesia is:

…a neurologically based phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.

For some people, this means that numbers are associated with colors…5 is blue, 2 is red, etc. In a recent experiment, a person with synesthesia was found to experience colors associated with numbers even though they were colorblind…colors that person had never actually seen with his eyes.

That may seem strange, but what it really means is that the subject had problems with his retina that left him able to distinguish only an extremely narrow range of wavelengths when looking at most images in the world — his brain was fine, but his eyes weren’t quite up to the job. But when he saw certain numbers, he experienced colors that he otherwise never saw.

He called the colors “martian colors”. (via the best thing i learned today)

Graph of the movie poster colors of

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 12, 2007

Graph of the movie poster colors of the top-grossing movies, from the brightly colored G-rated movies to the dark and fleshy NC-17 films.

Pie charts representing the flags of the world

posted by Jason Kottke   May 30, 2007

Pie charts representing the flags of the world’s nations…the area of each color on the charts corresponds to the percentage of that color used in the respective flag. I’ll take this opportunity to again maintain that Rem Koolhaas’ barcode flag for the EU is, technically speaking, wicked awesome. (via colourlovers)

Clever technique for pinching the colors from

posted by Jason Kottke   May 04, 2007

Clever technique for pinching the colors from famous paintings using the Match Color tool in Photoshop. “The Old Masters of painting spent years of their lives learning about color. Why let all their effort go to waste on the walls of some museum when it could be used to give you a hand with color correction?”