The Ghostly Colors of Spectral Spectres

The Ghostly Colors of Spectral Spectres

Shrouded in mystery, ghostly apparitions materialize in many subtly haunting colors. Besides deathly white, the specrtral spectrum embraces ethereal violets, cadaverous yellows, twilit blues, midnight blacks, moonlit silvers, and near-transparent yet unmistakable hues spanning the entire night rainbow. The delicate, insubstantial hues of the ghostly realm can add an emotive dimension of wistfulness to any palette, Halloween-themed or otherwise.

Charley: What color?
Nancy: Ghost color.
Charley: Ghost color? Oh, ghost color!
—John Cecil Holm, Gramercy Ghost (1951)


Strange white lustres and shadowy blacks are integral to the philosophy of art teacher John Ruskin. He explains: "When white is well managed, it ought to be strangely delicious,—tender as well as bright,—like inlaid mother of pearl, or white roses washed in milk. The eye ought to seek it for rest, brilliant though it may be; and to feel it as a space of strange, heavely paleness in the midst of the flushing of the colours. This effect you can only reach by general depth of middle tint, by absolutely refusing to allow any white to exist except where you need it, and by keeping the white itself subdued by grey, except at a few points of chief lustre.

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The Color Sense Game from Pittsburgh Paints

The Color Sense Game from Pittsburgh Paints

I can't tell you the number of quizzes I've taken over the years trying to get an outside opinion about what's going on inside my head, but the ones I've found most interesting are those that ask questions of the senses -- other than sight -- to find your "inner" colour. No matter where you go, however, the underlying theme with all of these quizzes suggests colour in personality, or personality in colour.

By age five, almost all of us have a favorite colour. Associating ourselves with that colour, surrounding ourselves with it, and forsaking all others (at some point) is common place. But what if your favorite colour doesn't meet your inspirational needs? What if your energetic orange room doesn't let you relax? What if your deep blue room doesn't energize you? What if you need a different set of eyes to see what's missing? Looking to expand on the colors you already know any love? Here are some places you can go to find out just what to do.

The Voice of Color

the voice of color by pittsburgh paints   

Paint is the cheapest and most dynamic way to change a room. While accuracy is always called into question, what interests me most about this room colour test is its approach. Found here on our very own forum, Pittsburgh Paints brings their answer to the typical, over-simplifying colour-personality quiz by asking about what tastes, smells, textures, and principles you hold in the highest. With Pittsburgh Paints, it's all about you and your radically subjective world.

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AI CS3 + Flickr + In The Mod Mashup

AI CS3 + Flickr + In The Mod Mashup

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.

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Color Inspiration: Blends, Gradients, Steps, Oh My!

Color Inspiration: Blends, Gradients, Steps, Oh My!

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.

Monochromatic Blends _oo _oo

[L] AlterEgo <3 peachbelle

cherry valance Almost spring

Attack! 200-240 Degrees By10

a cold day blue fader

deep down Be Mine!

'Dowager's Greens a whole room

' Choy Bourgeon de Tilleul

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Great for Color, Your Home & The Earth: FLOR

Great for Color, Your Home & The Earth: FLOR

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.)

FLOR Color Options

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.

FLOR Carpet Colors
Blog Action Day

We're supporting our good friends over at, 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.

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Colourful Allusions vol. 1

Colourful Allusions vol. 1

Though printed in black and white, great literature is bursting with vibrant colour.  In this rebus-style puzzle, color words and parts of words have been replaced with colored boxes.  Try to guess the exact hue of each.  Roll your mouse over the colored boxes to reveal the missing words.  Click the colored boxes to learn more about each hue.  Special thanks to Paul Dean for his colorful research.


Moldorf is word drunk. He has no veins or blood vessels, no heart or kidneys. He is a portable trunk filled with innumerable drawers and in the drawers are labels written out in white ink, brown ink, red ink, blue ink, vermilion, saffron, mauve, sienna, apricot, turquoise, onyx, Anjou, herring, Corona, verdigris, gorgonzola. . . .
—Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 1961.

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Unicorns: Unreal Shades of White

Unicorns: Unreal Shades of White

Legendary and mythical creatures are best seen with the inner eye of imagination. When we bring color to mythological creatures, we invite others to behold the fantastical. We have the opportunity to conjure up an encounter as visceral as it is visible. Hence, we should strive to be inventive, inspirational, and provocative. A unicorn, for example, would not optimally be pure white. Pristine as the creature may be, pure white doesn't tell a story, and story is the driving force of myth. Even the subtlest of shades are required to establish poetic dimensionality. Peter Beagle, author of the The Last Unicorn (1968), took great care to distinguish between two shades of white on a unicorn's coat. He described a very old unicorn as being "no longer the careless color of sea foam but rather the color of snow falling on a moonlit night." The following two colours illustrate his description:
ocean foam twilight snow

Unicorns Have Also Been Described As:

silkwhite pearl

Oatmeal water white

watery ice Winter morning sun

pale moon Milk

diamond Fog

img by Sebastiá Giralt.

Some Unicorn Palette Inspiration:

Unicorn Temporary Unicorn

Purple unicorns Unicorn Night Light

Unicorn Unicorn Tapestry

Unicorn Soup the unicorn is dead

Awkward Unicorn unicorn disguised

i was born a unicorn Purple Unicorn

Unicorns Unicorn

Real Men 3 Unicorns Unicorn

fairy on a unicorn Lady & Unicorn

death of a unicorn uniquecorn love

Unicorn Fun Fact


The Royal Crest, seen on British passports, features a lion and a unicorn, two animals not exactly seen often in the United Kingdom. Why?
The lion on the royal crest symbolizes england, and the unicorn scotland.
The lion makes reference to the "three passant guardians", that are used in the English coat of arms since Richard the lionheart.
The unicorn is used in the Scottish coat of arms.
The lion is crowned, and the unicorn is chained (unicorns were originally considered to be dangerous beasts).


Header Image img by Philocrites.

Craig ConleyAbout the Guest Author, Craig Conley
Craig is an independent scholar and author of dozens of strange and unusual books, including a unicorn field guide and a dictionary of magic words. He also loves color: Prof. Oddfellow

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Color Association in Game Design

Color Association in Game Design

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

Black & White Mourning Colors

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).

Friendly Radiation red enemy

best friend My Friend's Enemy

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).

Private Language

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 [email protected].

imgAbout 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.

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Apartment Therapy: Fall Colors Contest

Apartment Therapy: Fall Colors Contest

Our friends over at are putting their third annual fall colors contest to see who has the most color loving home. Win Up To $2500 from a total of $7500 in prizes to be awarded! - Thanks to subsomatic for reminding us.

How colorful is your home?

Apartment Therapy: Fall Colors Contest

WHAT: Our Fall Colors Contest is a contest for all color lovers. We're looking for the boldest, most beautiful, most colorful home in the world.

WHY: Color is a powerful part of interior design, and the cheapest way to change a room, but few feel comfortable using it. To inspire confidence, we're going to share all of the best color homes, tips and sources, worldwide.

I've Got Color! - Fall Colors Contest 2007

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Birthstone Colors: October

Birthstone Colors: October

October's stones are both characterized by flexibility or change. The traditional and modern stone for October is the seemingly fickle Opal, and the alternative is the long, slender Tourmaline. Both the Opal and Tourmaline come in a variety of colors, Opal spanning the spectrum.

blue opal necklace   

The word opal comes from the Latin opalus, by Greek òpalliòs, and is from the same root as Sanskrit upálá[s] for "stone." Opal ranges from clear through white, gray, red, yellow, green, shore, blue, magenta, brown, and black. Of these hues, red and black are the most rare, whereas white and green are the most common. Opal is the national stone of Australia, with some of the most precious existing there. Opals are iridescent, giving way to an even broader surface colour range.

opal necklace

The varieties of Opal are common (milk opal, milky bluish to greenish (which can sometimes be of gemstone quality), honey-yellow with a resinous lustre, brown, grey, or a colorless glass-clear opal sometimes called Muller's Glass), precious (characterized by tight speherical structure), Fire Opal (or Girasol, is a translucent to semi-opaque stone that is generally yellow to bright orange and sometimes nearly red and displays pleochroism at certain angles), Peruvian Opal (also called blue opal) is a semi-opaque to opaque blue-green stone found in Peru which is often cut to include the matrix in the more opaque stones. Peruvian Opal does not display pleochroism (an optical phenomenon in which stones appear to be different colors when observed at different angles).

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