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GEK1532

History of color theory and color mixing

GEK1532 History of color theory and color mixing Thorsten Wohland Dep. Of Chemistry S8-3-6 Tel.: 6516

Thorsten Wohland Dep. Of Chemistry

S8-3-6

Tel.: 6516 1248 E-mail: chmwt@nus.edu.sg

The history of color is the history of science and the interactions between different disciplines which include philosophy, physics, physiology, psychology, chemistry and biology but as well the arts like painting and poetry.

Revision:

What is color?

Is it a property of objects? Is it a property of light?

Is it a property of our brain?

Is it a property determined by our cultural background?

Is it a property determined by our language?

Revision: Let’s ask what is necessary to perceive color

Light as the medium that transfers information to us (light source)

An object which interacts with the light and changes its characteristics (wavelength, intensity) and is thus perceived

Eyes that act as a sensor for light (intensity and some wavelength discrimination)

The brain that interprets the signal detected by the eyes and leads to the perception of the color and object

It turns out that every single aspect here has an influence on the color seen and color is not simply characterized by and one of them.

What are essential properties of colors?

Spectral colors

Saturation, hue, brightness

Complementarity

What are essential properties of colors? Spectral colors Saturation, hue, brightness Complementarity
What are essential properties of colors? Spectral colors Saturation, hue, brightness Complementarity
What are essential properties of colors? Spectral colors Saturation, hue, brightness Complementarity
What are essential properties of colors? Spectral colors Saturation, hue, brightness Complementarity
What are essential properties of colors? Spectral colors Saturation, hue, brightness Complementarity
What are essential properties of colors? Spectral colors Saturation, hue, brightness Complementarity

How do we perceive objects?

  • 560 BC: Pythagoreans believe that the eye sends rays to objects to obtain information.

  • 480 BC: Empedocles thinks that objects emit images that interact with

emanations form the eye.

  • 450 to 300 BC: Socrates, Democritus (atomists), Plato, Aristotle, Euclid all have

some theory that postulate rays from the eye and/or rays from the object that

causes us to see color and shape.

80 BC:

Lucretius postulates that sunlight acts in the air to create the

impressions we get of objects ..

Up to 1200 AD:

Roger Bacon still believes that it is the eye that emits rays to scan objects.

How do we perceive objects?

Vision Rays?

How do we perceive objects? Vision Rays? Scanning an object to obtain an image. That is

Scanning an object to obtain an image. That is actually a concept used in many modern microscopes.

Pro: How can a mountain send out images in all directions that then can enter the small eye?

Contra: Why are vision rays not active in the dark?

How many colors are needed to mix all possible colors?

How many colors are needed to mix all possible colors? Aristotle 2 colors? What is the

Aristotle

2 colors?

What is the first and most basic regular process a human would observe in its environment?

How many colors are needed to mix all possible colors? Aristotle 2 colors? What is the
How many colors are needed to mix all possible colors? Aristotle 2 colors? What is the
How many colors are needed to mix all possible colors? Aristotle 2 colors? What is the
How many colors are needed to mix all possible colors? Aristotle 2 colors? What is the
How many colors are needed to mix all possible colors? Aristotle 2 colors? What is the
How many colors are needed to mix all possible colors? Aristotle 2 colors? What is the
How many colors are needed to mix all possible colors? Aristotle 2 colors? What is the

Aristotle thus originally believed that all colors are degradations of black and white.

How many colors are needed to mix all possible colors?

However, remember the afterimages you saw last lecture: they suggest that there are at least two pairs of complementary colors: yellow-blue and red-green.

Aristotle’s color circle

How many colors are needed to mix all possible colors? However, remember the afterimages you saw

Nassau, Fig. 1.1

6 colors?

How many colors are needed to mix all possible colors?

How many colors are needed to mix all possible colors? 1643-1727: Newton used a prism to
How many colors are needed to mix all possible colors? 1643-1727: Newton used a prism to

1643-1727: Newton used a prism to decompose sunlight in its parts. He founded a color theory and made the first color circle to order colors.

7 colors?

http://physics.hallym.ac.kr

Newton’s color circle

Newton’s color circle

How many colors are needed to mix all possible colors?

How many colors are needed to mix all possible colors? Johann Wolfgang Goethe : He contributed
How many colors are needed to mix all possible colors? Johann Wolfgang Goethe : He contributed

Johann Wolfgang Goethe: He contributed to color theory (often in enmity towards Newton) and created a symmetric color circle with 6 colors (not 7 like Newton’s) which were pair-wise complementary colors.

6 colors?

An interesting article to Goethe and Newton can be found at:

http://www.aip.org/pt/vol-55/iss-7/p43.html

How many colors are needed to mix all possible colors?

How many colors are needed to mix all possible colors? “We are capable of feeling three

“We are capable of feeling three different color sensations. Light of different kinds excites these sensations in different proportions, and it is by the different combinations of these three primary sensations that all the varieties of visible color are produced.”

James Clerk Maxwell

1831-1879

First color pictures by photographing a subject with filters of the three primary colors.

-> Maxwell’s color triangle

3 colors?

How many colors are needed to mix all possible colors?

Green

Cyan
Cyan

White

Yellow
Yellow

Blue

Red

Magenta

How many colors are needed to mix all possible colors? Green Cyan White Yellow Blue Red

How many colors are needed to mix all possible colors?

How many colors are needed to mix all possible colors? Ewald Hering 1834-1918 We have three

Ewald Hering

1834-1918

We have three channels for distinguishing colors in our brain:

2 chromatic:

RED - GREEN YELLOW – BLUE 1 achromatic:

BLACK – WHITE

4 colors?

Saturation, hue, brightness

 
Hue

Hue

 
Hue

Saturation

Saturation, hue, brightness Hue Saturation Hue Brightness
 
Hue

Hue

 
Hue

Brightness

Saturation, hue, brightness Hue Saturation Hue Brightness

Saturation, hue, brightness

Hue: Blue

(HSB:241)

Brightness Saturation Brightness Saturation
Brightness
Saturation
Brightness
Saturation

Saturation, hue, brightness

Saturation, hue, brightness
Saturation, hue, brightness
Saturation, hue, brightness
Saturation, hue, brightness
Saturation, hue, brightness
Saturation, hue, brightness

Newton’s experiment

Newton’s experiment 1643-1727: Newton used a prism to decompose sunlight in its parts. He founded a

1643-1727: Newton used a prism to decompose sunlight in its parts. He founded a color theory and made the first color circle to order colors.

http://physics.hallym.ac.kr

Newton’s experiment 1643-1727: Newton used a prism to decompose sunlight in its parts. He founded a

Colors obtained by passing white light through a prism are the so-called spectral hues or colors in the pure spectrum.

More colors can be produced by mixing these colors with white (ex.: red+white -> pink).

All these colors are said to have the same hue but different saturation (sometimes called chroma or purity).

How are colors produced in our environment?

1) Light sources of different color can be used to illuminate objects, i.e. one uses only a selected part of the visible spectrum for illumination.

Assuming Sun light as the light source. The sunlight interacts with the object and:

2) A part of the spectrum is removed

3) The sunlight is separated in its components (prism, rainbow) Start with no light, i.e. darkness 4) A part of the spectrum is added (emission, e.g. fluorescence)

400 nm 500 nm 600 nm 700 nm
400 nm
500 nm
600 nm
700 nm

Spectrum

Additive mixing

What you see

Spectrum Additive mixing What you see
Spectrum Additive mixing What you see
Spectrum Additive mixing What you see
Spectrum Additive mixing What you see
Spectrum Additive mixing What you see
Spectrum Additive mixing What you see
Spectrum Additive mixing What you see
Spectrum Additive mixing What you see
Spectrum Additive mixing What you see
Spectrum Additive mixing What you see
Spectrum Additive mixing What you see
Spectrum Additive mixing What you see
Spectrum Additive mixing What you see
Spectrum Additive mixing What you see

Spectrum

Subtractive mixing

Light source is needed

What you see

Spectrum Subtractive mixing Light source is needed What you see
Spectrum Subtractive mixing Light source is needed What you see
Spectrum Subtractive mixing Light source is needed What you see
Spectrum Subtractive mixing Light source is needed What you see
Spectrum Subtractive mixing Light source is needed What you see
Spectrum Subtractive mixing Light source is needed What you see
Spectrum Subtractive mixing Light source is needed What you see
Spectrum Subtractive mixing Light source is needed What you see
Spectrum Subtractive mixing Light source is needed What you see
Spectrum Subtractive mixing Light source is needed What you see
Spectrum Subtractive mixing Light source is needed What you see
Spectrum Subtractive mixing Light source is needed What you see

Spectrum

Subtractive mixing

What you see

An object that reflects all light is WHITE An object that absorbs blue light is YELLOW
An object that reflects all light is WHITE
An object that absorbs blue light is YELLOW
An object that absorbs blue and green light is ORANGE
An object that absorbs all light is BLACK

But what is this?

But what is this? It’s called Metamerism
But what is this? It’s called Metamerism
But what is this? It’s called Metamerism
But what is this? It’s called Metamerism
But what is this? It’s called Metamerism
But what is this? It’s called Metamerism
But what is this? It’s called Metamerism
But what is this? It’s called Metamerism
But what is this? It’s called Metamerism
But what is this? It’s called Metamerism
But what is this? It’s called Metamerism
But what is this? It’s called Metamerism

It’s called Metamerism

Question for you:

Is there a possibility to test whether two colors are really the same or are metamers?

So what is the minimum amount of colors we need to mix “all” colors?

3

Additive color mixing by three primary colors

Additive color mixing by three primary colors Additive color mixing is based on the emission of

Additive color mixing is based on the emission of light.

Example: Television

Example: Television

Partitive mixing

Close up:

Partitive mixing Close up: Far away: In contrast to simple mixing, where colors really overlap, in

Far away:

Partitive mixing Close up: Far away: In contrast to simple mixing, where colors really overlap, in

In contrast to simple mixing, where colors really overlap, in partitive mixing colors do not overlap. However since they are close together our eyes are not able to resolve them and the colors add up.

Subtractive color mixing with three primary colors

Subtractive color mixing with three primary colors Subtractive color mixing is based on the absorption of
Subtractive color mixing with three primary colors Subtractive color mixing is based on the absorption of

Subtractive color mixing is based on the absorption of light (illumination or light source dependent).

For an article on primary colors see:

http://www.gain.net/PIA GATF/PDF/GATF/info005.pdf

Let’s try an experiment

Let’s try an experiment
Let’s try an experiment
Let’s try an experiment

Questions to ponder

• Why do you see the colors only at the edges?

• How does the colors depend on the edge type?

• Can you explain why that is so?

For further details see: http://www.colorcube.com/articles/prism/prism.htm