HP has been doing some very cool things around color lately. One thing I recently stumbled onto is their Color Thesaurus. You enter in a color name and it gives you 4 similar named colors and 4 opposite colors. I used the tool to create the basic color wheel info below, but dive in and find out what colors are similar to Rose, Grass, Aqua, Ivory, etc.
The results that are returned are a large color square with a rendering of the color if it was found. If the name was not found, for example “greeb” was entered, then the next nearest color name in terms of edit distance, in this case “green”, will be returned. So no you won’t have to remember how to spell fuchsia. In addition to the colored square are the corresponding RGB and hexidecimal values. Finally there is a note about how common the color name is. Below this are the color synonyms and antonyms. Each column has smaller color squares rendering the color names and the names with links so that you can easily click-through to these names. The results are based on analysis of 20,000+ color name database in English collected from a 20+ language ongoing online color naming experiment.
Almost all of us use Adobe products in our professional and hobby design lives, but the new release of CS3 made it very hard for developers and websites like ours to allow users to get their palettes into the CS3 suite of products. CS3 uses a new format for storing color palettes aka schemes / swatches and Adobe kept their .ase file format a secret so that only Adobe Kuler could export to this format... Well, we're not very good about NOT sharing the color love... so Chris our skilled code engineer poured over all the specifications and documentation on the file format to figure out how to share that .ase love with everybody.
The Adobe Swatch Exchange (.ase) File Format - Source Code
For any other color lovers, developers or creative individuals who would like their applications and websites to be able to spit out .ase color palettes...
Here is the .ASE Source Code we are using.
Downloading .ase Color Palettes from COLOURlovers
COLOURlovers has over 200,000 user created palettes with more than 25,000 being added monthly. Not only is the community a creative and fun place to share color ideas... those ideas can be used in several professional design programs.
The history of academic dress goes back hundreds of years to the chill universities where cap, gown and hood were needed for covering and warmth.
In 1321, the University of Coimbra mandated that all Doctors, Bachelors, and Licentiates must wear gowns. In the latter half of the 14th century, excess in apparel was forbidden in some colleges and prescribed wearing a long gown. By the time of England's Henry VIII, Oxford and Cambridge began using a standard form of academic dress, which was controlled to the tiniest detail by the university.
Not until the late 1800s were colors assigned to signify certain areas of study, but they were only standardized in the United States. European institutions have always had diversity in their academic dress, but American institutions employ a definite system of dress thanks to Gardner Cotrell Leonard from Albany, New York. After designing gowns for his 1887 class at Williams College, he took an interest in the subject and published an article on academic dress in 1893. Soon after he was asked to work with an Intercollegiate Commission to form a system of academic apparel.
The system Gardner Cotrell Leonard helped form was based on gown cut, style and fabric; as well as designated colors to represent fields of study.
For example, sleeves in the bachelor's gown are pointed, in the masters gown they are oblong and the arms project at the elbow, and in the doctor's gown they are bell shaped. Only the doctor's gown has velvet facing. The hood is lined with the official colors of the degree issuing institution and the outside trimming of the hood signifies the subject in which the degree was obtained:
|Arts, Letters, Humanities|
|Commerce, Accountancy, Business|
|Fine Arts, including Architecture|
|Forestry, Environmental Studies, Sustainability|
|Philosophy, Political Science|
|Public Administration, including Foreign Service|
|Veterinary Science, Husbandry|
For more about the history and guidelines from academic ceremony costumes, check out An Academic Costume Code and An Academic Ceremony Guide by the American Council on Education.
I'm not sure I fully understand... should that have been written the color "Magenta™"? The absurdity is probably confusing to you as well. The total hue domination by T-Mobile and its bigger Deutsche Telekom (DT) has been going on for several years, but has gained more attention lately. DT not only trademarked magenta, they also have a trademark on the use of their two 2 color logo... More can be read at servicemarks.
Don't worry trademarks only apply to the industry sector that they are registered under and since DT applied for their trademark in the tele-communications sector you just can't use the color magenta around anything to do with phones, digital media... oh and just about anything on the internet.
Here is a screenshot of the T-Mobile USA website with their trademark highlighted:
Burma (or Myanmar, as it was renamed by its military-led government in 1989) is a country of 50 million people. It has an extremely long coastline along the Indian Ocean, and is bounded by India and Thailand to the east and west. The north is bounded by mountains and beyond them, China. But despite its location and its vast natural resources, it is one of the poorest countries in the world.
Last month, on September 27, a movement of peaceful protest instigated by monks, over worsening economic conditions, was suppressed by the killing of an unknown number of protesters, including a Japanese photographer who continued to take photographs as he lay dying the street. (The government claims that nine people were killed, but other sources indicate that there may have been as many as 200 deaths.) Since then thousands of suspected protest instigators have been arrested and incarcerated.
This is a tragic reminder of the general protests and tragic repercussions of the 8/8/88, a general protest march which started on the eighth minute of the eighth hour on August 8, 1988. The military crushed this peaceful uprising by shooting directly into crowds and killing over 2000 people. General Ne Win, the country's military leader at the time, simply commented "When an army shoots, it doesn't shoot in the air. It shoots to kill."
Ne Win is no longer alive, but the severe repression that began when he took power in 1962 continues. In a 1990 election, the NLD, The National League for Democracy, won 82% of the parliamentary seats. The military junta refused to recognize these results, and its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who has since received the Nobel Peace Prize, has been under almost constant house arrest ever since.
Jack-o-lanterns, haunted houses, vampires, witches, ghosts, candy and kids trick-or-treating... Halloween has grown into one of the biggest commercial holidays in the US since the first official citywide celebration in Anoka, Minn., in 1921. But, Halloween has been around for over 2,000 years and its customs and rituals have changed dramatically over time. Here we'll look at a bit of the history of this holiday and get some color inspiration from the day's iconic colors.
Halloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in).
The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.
By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints', All Saints', and All Souls', were called Hallowmas.
Source - History Channel
Halloween Colors & Symbolism
Probably the most well known symbol of Halloween is the carved pumpkin, or jack-o-lantern. The tradition of carving a lantern comes from the Irish who used potatoes and turnips, but was modified to use the pumpkin in the US where it was available.
There are a few colors that are strongly associated with Halloween. Orange and black being the two main colors of the holiday. Although these colors have been mass-marketed in recent years, they are thought to go all the way back to the celtic celebrations and be reminders of the candles and fires that were lit to welcome the cold black winter ahead.
What do you get when Dr. Woohoo mashes up Adobe Illustrator CS3, Flickr and In The Mod: Color Analytics? A free swf Panel that runs inside AI CS3 that allows you to search Flickr & In The Mod, view the colors from each image or painting you select and then save them directly to the Swatches Panel in AI.
Adobe Illustrator CS3 + Flickr + In The Mod mash-up from dr woohoo.
The inspiration for the Flickr integration comes from a variety of sources – watching what Mario and Marcos did with Kelvin’s Flashr; looking at the photographs of the Ronin, Annie Liebowitz and Rebekka Guðleifsdóttir; and of course the colors we see all around us – in the orchids and the sunsets – whose combinations are simply perfect.
Blend, Gradient, Steps... whatever you call them, they're fun to make and to look at. I tried to organize them as best possible, but it honestly is difficult to categorize these things. First we have blends where all the colors are in pretty much the same hue. Then blends to black or gray. Analogous blends are of colors that are near each other on the color wheel and I threw the rest in complementary blends as they, for the most part have colors across the color wheel from each other.
Today we're joining over 14,000 other blogs for Blog Action Day's conversation about the environment. Being conscious of the issues facing our planet and being proactive about lessening your impact doesn't have to be a plain or painful experience. FLOR is a company that is bringing lots of color and style to the home, and doing it with a planet friendly mission. Their customizable floor coverings make adding color to your personal space and helping the earth super easy.
FLOR makes a modular carpet tile in tons of styles, making it easy to create a custom rug of any site or run it wall to wall in any mix of colors or patterns. No Gluey-Goo, No Professional Carpet Layers... These are DIY and easy. (I look forward to making a palette of color on my office floor when the remodel is done.)
At FLOR, we're really proud of who we are. From our great designs, to the functionality and versatility of our product, we think FLOR is pretty cool. But more than that, we're proud of what we stand for: Mission Zero™. Our environmental position, launched 12 years ago by our parent company, Interface, Inc., seeks to eliminate any negative impact our family of companies has on the environment by 2020.
We believe it's not just about what a product is made of, it's about how it's made. In the last 12 years, we have reduced manufacturing waste sent to landfills by 63% and our absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 56% worldwide. FLOR products bring a piece of Mission Zero into your home.
FLOR has an R&R™ program (Return-Recycle) that allows customers to share the responsibility of living green with FLOR. If you're ready to get rid of existing FLOR to make room for new FLOR in your home, contact us. We'll arrange for your used carpet tiles to be picked up and shipped back to our mill, where the old tiles will be recycled into new product.
FLOR is eco-friendly »
DYI Flooring for Color Lovers
FLOR modular tiles come in a variety of colors, patterns and styles. Included below are some examples of the color variety... you can Browse by Color to see all the options.
We're supporting our good friends over at BlogActionDay.org, an annual event where bloggers unite to bring some attention to a single important issue. This year the topic is the Environment and over 14,000 blogs will reach over 12 million readers.
Color is one of the most basic visual components of a game, but what are its psychological effects? Activision's James Portnow looks at all the pretty colors and their psychological effects as it relates to game design.
We're going to start with the heady and work down to the practical, but this is far from an exact science. I invite you all to share your insights on the subject. Hopefully, with our common pool of knowledge and experience, we can begin to establish a language of color for videogames.
Color psychology breaks down because the symbolic meaning attached to color is almost always the result of cultural acclimatization. Yet it is universally acknowledged that color is one of the most fundamental ways we assimilate information from an image, thus it becomes necessary for us as game designers to create our own form of cultural reference for our players. The move from the primitive intuitive system we use now to something more formalized would allow us to convey greater quantities of information at greater speeds with greater redundancy. As attention spans decrease and the complexity of our games increase, it will be necessary to utilize every tool available to streamline communication.
Color as the Product of Culture
The starkest example of cultural influence on the way we view color is probably the difference between the mourning colors found in many Eastern cultures and those found in Western cultures. In many Eastern cultures, white is considered the color of mourning and is often used to represent death, whereas in the West we tend to use black.
In Islamic cultures, green often has very positive associations, whereas in the United States we tend to associate certain greens with greed. Why? Simply because our money is green.
The one consistent finding of psychological studies on color is that its effects are contextual. Given that that is the case, we can create our own context (i.e. videogames) and then use color to covey meaning within that context.
Preservation of Artistic Expression
Once color begins to be used as a means of communication, one might fear that artistic expression would be compromised. In response I would simply ask you this: do words lose their artistry because they are meant to communicate? Do moving pictures lose their art because we use them to convey meaning?
Rhetoric aside though, I have two points to make on this topic: first, the artistic possibilities of color choice are not reduced by adding the language of metaphor to color, and second, this language will probably be used in very specific and well-understood contexts (for example I don't think "go" whenever I see green, but I understand the context in which it has that meaning and can intuitively understand when it is being used as such).
What We Know So Far
Ok, so at this point you probably want something practical out of all of this. Let me hit you with this one then: we already have a very primitive color language in games. This may be obvious, but think about red and green.
First, let's consider red. Think about any game where you can take damage. We usually indicate taking damage by flashing the screen red or placing a red haze in front of the camera. Consider for a moment the last time you first saw such a flash or a haze in a game. You didn't need to be told what it meant; you knew because you understood that within the context of videogaming red is usually the danger/damage/warning color.
Now imagine if you were to make the flash light blue or green. Somehow that inherently makes no sense to us. We've had these associations for so long that we actually feel like taking a different tack is illogical...and it is, because it would be like arbitrarily redefining a word. If I were to tell you that "cat" now refers to a four-wheeled vehicle powered by a combustion engine your mind would recoil and you would reject such a suggestion.
But one can argue that this is true for red because red is the color of blood, or the color of fire, or some other innate and primitive thing. In part this may be true, but let's look at green. Green is consistently used in games to imply "friendly" or "ally". This is a use specific to games. One can tie it psychologically to the greenness of nature or culturally to green lights, but the fact still remains that green bounding or a green name in a game almost certainly means one thing: not hostile (1).
1. Brief Anecdote: I recently worked on a game that involved the player attacking targets that were far enough away to be indistinct. The play testers kept complaining about not being able to tell friend from foe. So, without changing any of the instructions we gave to the play testers, we added a faint green glow to friendly targets. Without exception and without asking questions, the play testers had no problem distinguishing from then on.
So Where Do We Use It?
For the most part, using color as a way to communicate meaning will come into play in the broad UI rather than the actual game art itself, though many games have done a brilliant job integrating the two.
For those of you who are interested, I would recommend looking at Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. There they use palette choice not only to drive the mood (i.e. to convey emotional meaning) but also to delineate gamespaces (thereby conveying logical meaning).
The greatest danger in developing a system like this is the possibility of developing a private language, a secret cant that only those in the know will understand. We must be wary of sacrificing accessibility for information content. Almost every science does this (law and medicine are excellent examples) but sciences aren't meant to have mass appeal. We can't end up developing a new method of conveying meaning only to have it enable us to be more exclusive than before.
This can be avoided though. First we must take our cues from the ordinary and the everyday. We must root our meaning in things which our users encounter on a daily basis (greying out is a good example as that was common in computer UI before it became prevalent in games). Second we can use color to reinforce meaning conveyed in other ways (this has the added benefit of teaching the interactor the "meaning" of the color schema). Third, much in the way film audiences have become accustomed to the language of film simply due to exposure, so too will our audience become accustomed to such a language as games become a societal constant (though this is something we cannot rely on).
As our art form matures we need to develop new tools to use to keep expanding what we can do. Color is only one of many such tools, but it is a powerful one. With any luck this article has at least sparked thoughts on how it can be used and what it means to actively develop such a tool.
Please share your thoughts, experiences and anecdotes. I ask only that you try and reference where you can.
As always, I'm reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Guest Author, James Portnow
James is a Game Designer for Activision, the lead design columnist for Next-Gen, a COLOURlover and a romantic who still believes that games are capable of making people cry.