colour scheme

Sat, 25 Sep 2004 02:39:22 PDT
We've spent a great deal of energy trying to understand what is meant by
colour names and, generally, although agreement in many areas is clear,
there is a great deal of room for interpretation.  To help a bit in a more
universal understanding, here are the accepted terms of colour, based on our
understanding of light refraction.  This is all a bit dry, but it represents
the basic foundations of colour theory. Delete now and accept my apologies,
if this will bore you.

PRIMARIES: Red, Blue, Yellow
SECONDARIES: Violet, Green, Orange
TERTIARIES: Red-Violet, Red-Orange, Orange-Yellow, Yellow-Green, Blue-Green,

You will notice that purple is not among these colours.  Also, fanciful
names are missing, as they are too subjective.  If one was to place these
colour in a wheel, one would recognise the constituents of the prismatic
rainbow.  Our eyes do not register wavelengths lower than Violet or higher
than Red, which represent the two extremes of human vison.  Our vision peaks
around yellow-green, which appears very bright to our senses.

In colour practice, you have tone, hue and chroma, which refer to adding
white, adding black and lastly intensity.  White is technically the total
absence of colour, while black is the total presence of colour. We refer to
grey as the additive for creating hues, not black.  You know the saying, all
practice is grey!

In the natural world, we never see pure base colours, except through light
refraction.  This is part of the reason why we have all of these fun names
for various hues and tones of colour.  They always have a white or grey
component, often both, which takes them away from the pure mother colours.
Purple is a greyed blue-violet.  Add white and you have lavender.

Ben's pondering on pink is an important area.  As Jim pointed out, pink is
not just white and red.  It is this and much more.  Our eyes are not
sensitive enough to see all the subtle changes in the red spectrum,
especially as it pales with white.  The blue or orange (yellow) component
are very difficult to discern, unless we place the tones next to each other.
From my own experience, we can learn to see these tones, but we tend to want
to gloss over them.  With greens to yellows to oranges, we seem to recognise
a much wider range, which would be logical, as our vision is particularly
sensitive in these wavelengths.

I hope this hasn't bored you too much, it just seemed important to know
where we are coming from in colour. Even with these principle, it is very
subjective as to where one colour starts and stops.

Jamie V.

More information about the pbs mailing list