What is the name of your favorite color? Blue? Green? Maroon? How about exotic colors like Amaranth or Xanadu? Everyone is familiar with the basic colors of the rainbow, like red, green, blue, yellow, etc, but did you know there exists a whole list of strange or uncommon color names that you most likely never have heard of? Colors such as:
Unless you were lucky enough to have the really big Crayola box as a kid, odds are you are not familiar with many of the colors listed above. Unlike many other kinds of objects of scientific study, color is unique in that its existence is intimately tied to human perception. One could argue that objects in the world, strictly speaking, do not have color; they only reflect wavelengths of light.
“Color is a power which directly influences the soul.” — Wassily Kandinsky
Those wavelengths of light are then perceived as colors by sensing creatures like humans and are tied to emotional responses. Despite the semi-subjective nature of color, there are recurring and systematic features of our experiences of color that can be united to give a systematic account of how colors behave with respect to human perception. The science of quantifying and describing human perceptions of color is called colorimetry.
Basic Color Theory: Subtractive and Additive Models
Color theory attempts to describe the fundamental features of color and color mixing abstracted away from any particular visual medium. Historically, color theory has had inconsistencies in its description of colors as it had failed to note the distinction between two different kinds of color mixing, subtractive mixing which describes the mixing behavior of paints, dyes or pigments, and additive mixing which describes the mixing behavior of different wavelengths of light. This distinction arises because the absorption of light from the mixing of material substances differs from the absorption of light by the human eye. Further investigations into color theory saw different groups using different schemas of color mixing, with subtractive color schemas used by those interested int he visual arts, and additive schemas typically used by scientists interested in human vision and electronics.
The subtractive model of color is the model taught in most primary schools and is generally considered to predate modern scientific theories of color. According to traditional subtractive color theory, all possible colors can be produced out of differing ratios of the three primary colors, red blue, and yellow. Purple, orange, and green are secondary colors and can be produced by mixing equal amounts of red and blue, red and yellow, and blue and yellow, respectively.
The subtractive schema of color mixing is called subtractive as it begins with a palette of white light, and subsequent additions of pigment or dye subtract wavelengths from the white light, giving it color. Modern color printing techniques in printing and photography use a subtractive color schema but most often substitute the red, blue, yellow primary template with the more versatile pigments cyan, magenta, and yellow.
In contrast, additive models of color are based on representing colors as the combination of certain wavelengths of light. According to additive schemas, the basic primary colors are red, green, and blue, where other colors are achieved through the mixing of those wavelengths of light. Modern additive theories of color are based on the human trichromatic vision theory, in which each primary color red, blue, and green matches up with a corresponding receptor cell in the human eye. Additive models of color are called additive as they start with a black background and successively construct colors by adding together different wavelengths of light.
“Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions.” — Pablo Picasso
In many models of colors, black, and white are designated as special achromatic colors; that is, colors that have an intensity and value but no hue. Black and white can be added to other colors to make shades and tints respectively and are used to make other neutral colors such as brown, gray, and tan.
List of Colors And Their Names By Hue and Shade
The following is a list of colors, divided by hue (red, blue, yellow, etc) and further differentiated by shades. This list and division of the colors into main hues and corresponding shades are based on standard RGB color representation used in modern computers. The color of each pixel on a computer monitor is encoded as 3 255-bit values, where each bit corresponds to an intensity of the primary colors red, green, or blue. For example, white is encoded as (255, 255, 255) as white is a combination of equal parts red, green, and blue light. This system of representation is therefore capable of displaying 165,81,375 (255³) distinct variations of color. Additionally, a number of shades could be considered to fall under multiple primary hues. Aquamarine, for example, is commonly designated as a shade of blue and as a shade of green.
The color black corresponds to the complete absence of absorption of light. Black is a special achromatic color. Different shades of black include:
“Mere color can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways.” — Oscar Wilde
Blue light corresponds to a wavelength of 440-490 nm. Blue is a primary color in both additive and subtractive color models. Various shades of blue include:
Green light is perceived as a wavelength of roughly 520-570 nm. Green is a primary color in additive models of color. Shades of green are:
- Lime Green
- Forest green
Red light corresponds to a wavelength of roughly 625-750 nm. It is considered one of the additive and subtractive primary colors Some shades of red are:
The color purple corresponds to wavelengths of light roughly in the 380-450 nm range. Purple is the shortest wavelength of light that humans can perceive. Shades of purple include:
Yellow light sits around the middle of the visible spectrum, with a wavelength of roughly 570-580 nm. Yellow is considered one of the subtractive primary colors. Shades of yellow include: