Saturday, May 15, 2010

5. Color Analysis System

Our twenty-four [33, 2012] skin tone coordinated color palettes of 620 [380, 2012] colors each originate from computer-generated mathematical algorithms, making the process both efficient and precisely accurate. This method selects a pool of colors with a close mathematical relationship to a specified skin tone as measured by contrast, and then reduces the pool of colors to just those colors that create a palette of cohesively harmonious colors--harmonious with each other, and with their targeted skin tone color.

Remarkably, human beings have the capacity to see about three million colors. Instead of trying to describe colors by words (such as "light mocha" or "springgreen"), which can be interpreted differently by different people, we can now name, or identify, all three million colors numerically. Each color note has its own hue, value and chroma identifying numbers. Hue is the way we commonly understand color; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and back to red again. Value measures the lightness or darkness of a color, and chroma measures a colors' intensity or dullness. So, for example, a particular "rose" color note can be identified as Hue: RP 2.22, Value: 6.37, and Chroma: 9.84.

In the early 1920s, to help us to envision these color concepts, Albert Munsell invented a color organization system that has meaning to this day. Imagine all visible colors floating in three-dimensional color space as illustrated by the graph to the right.

The Munsell Color System graph is designed such that contrasts between colors are all the same among groups of neighboring colors on the same hue page and neighboring colors on different hue pages, and chroma has a steady, linear rate of change with contrast reaching zero at the neutral axis.

Don't worry, you don't need to understand what that means. The important thing is to realize that the three-dimension perceptually ordered Hue/Value/Chroma color space facilitates the accurate calculation of color distances (contrast) between any two colors in the color space.

It would, however, help you to understand what is meant by "color contrast" because's whole color analysis system hinges on this concept. Color contrast is the measure of the visual difference between two colors when they are viewed side-by-side. For example, a black square and a white square placed next to each other create the greatest contrast possible. On the other hand, a pastel blue and a pastel purple placed side-by-side will create much less of a contrast.

Within the color space defined by Munsell's color system, it is critical to have a way to measure the contrast between any two colors.
  • We first mathematically quantify color contrast relationships in three dimensional Hue/Value/Chroma space
  • then we apply harmonic progressions or scales to those Hue/Value/Chroma contrasts. A color palette of controlled, organized contrast is our goal.
"Contrast is critical to controlling color relationships, because contrast is something we can attach a number to. Once we can attach a number to something, we can control it. Once we can control color numerically, then we can organize, arrange and harmonize color. So, in a sense there is no such thing as color harmony. There can only be color-contrast harmony, because it is not the color that we are harmonizing, but the differences between the colors, measured objectively and numerically, just like music." [Master Colors Blog: August 2007] "Harmony is not an opinion or a subjective feeling. Harmony is objective. Harmony's effect is subjective." [Master Colors Blog: January 2008]

The progression chosen by selects only the colors that are 5, 10, 20, 40, [+60, 2012] and 80-88 [black] contrast levels from the targeted skin tone color. This is a simple doubling progression that lends a solid color-contrast harmony to each personal color palette of 620 [380, 2012] colors.

Within each of the 24 [33, 2012] different palettes:
  • you will find a full range of soft, medium and intense color choices.
  • All colors within a palette harmonize beautifully with each other and with the skin tone they were selected for.
  • Though black will not appear in a personal palette if it would create a contrast too strong for a very light skin tone, wearing a print of black on white works well for everyone.
  • Additionally, your natural hair color(s) which is/are your Primary Neutral Color(s) and your natural eye color(s),which is/are your Secondary Neutral Color(s), should be added to your personal color palette, if they are not already there.
  • People with very dark hair or eyes, and very light skin may also add black to their palette.
In the system used by, 88 is the contrast level between black and white. It is the strongest color contrast possible. And interestingly, 88 is also the number of keys on a keyboard. "Combine technology with mathematical proportions and it's as if you are creating musical compositions with color." [Andrew Hussie]

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