Tag Archives: blue


“Wearing a light blue wetsuit that matches the colour of the sea will make you less likely to become the victim of a shark attack, according to researchers.
Sharks are completely colour blind and only see things clearly if they are mostly light or dark, scientists have claimed.”according to the Daily Mail.

This does not make a lot of sense – if sharks are colour blind then it wouldn’t matter what colour you wear. But later in the article the point is put better by Professor Nathan Hart, from the University of Western Australia: ‘It’s the high contrast against the water rather than the colour itself which is probably attractive to sharks. So you should wear perhaps more muted colours or colours that match the background in the water better.’

Apparently sharks really are monochromats – so colour blind in the popular understanding of the word – and so it’s really a case of matching the yoru swim suit with the lightness or brightness of the surrounding water. Don’t wear a very bright or a very dark swim suit, in short. Maybe this can lead to better designed swimwear!

Whitehall colour branding

The UK government is set to rebrand its departments with bold new colour schemes. The new colours include lots of blues and greens; for example, navy blue for the Foreign Office, bright blue for the NHS and green for the Department of Energy and Climate Change. However, the The Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which is purple at the moment, is reassigned bright pink.

Read more here.

Nadal hits out at never-before-seen colour

I was quite excited to come across this news story today. I do sometimes get asked by people about colours that nobody has ever seen before. So the notion that Nadal had seen one was quite interesting. However, it turns out that it is not a colour that has never been seen before but a clay colour that has never been used before in a ranking tennis tournament. Doh!!

The controversial use of blue courts at the ATP-WTA Madrid Masters may be a poor choice. One of the requirements of a clay court colour is to ensure good contrast between the ball and the ground.

why I don’t like the colour wheel

There are many reasons why I don’t like colour wheels of the type shown below:

The first reason is because it perpetuates the myth that the subtractive primaries are red, yellow and blue whereas the fact is that red, yellow and blue produces a rather small gamut of colours. It is certainly not the best choice of subtractive primaries though it is taught as dogma in many art and design schools and throughout children’s education. The problem is that whenever two colours are mixed together there is saturation loss; that is, the resultant mixture ends up being more desaturated than the two components were. The saturation loss is greatest when mixing colours on the opposite side of the colour circle where the resultant mixture can be almost grey. However, for certain choices of primaries, the saturation loss is greater than for others. If red, yellow and blue are used as the primaries then of course it is possible to generate any other hue. However, there is significant saturation loss and the above colour wheel gives completely the wrong impression. It suggests that mixing blue and yellow together, for example, results in a really bright vivid green.

The reality of pigment mixing is much more like the triangular colour wheel shown below:

In the above diagram it can be seen that mixing together yellow and blue results in a really muddy dark green. The purple resulting from mixing blue and red is almost black!! Now it is possible to mix together a blue and a yellow to get a better green. For example, mixing a greenish blue with a yellow will give a much more vivid green. Mixing a bluish red with a greenish blue will result in a lovely purple. We have a name for a greenish blue and a blueish red – we call them cyan and magenta. A much better colour gamut is obtained if we start with the primaries, cyan, magenta and yellow.

Footnote: Some people may look at the triangular colour wheel and think that the reason the colours are dull is that the red, yellow, and blue primaries used are not ‘pure’ enough. Nothing could be farther from the truth. If it was possible to make really vivid and bright red and blue pigments then the resultant colour gamut would be even smaller. Fundamentally, red, yellow and blue just don’t make good subtractive primaries.

the colour of ergonomics

I just came across an article about Ford who think that the colour of the lighting in a car interior can affect driving alertness, giving drivers enhanced attention span, improving safety.

They say that a blue colour is best for alertness. I was intrigued by the statement:

The brain does not see color. What we call color of light is actually a form of electromagnetic energy with different wavelengths.

Seems to be by someone who thinks that colour is perceptual rather than physics – see my view on this.

They also say:

Certain levels or combinations of light trigger enzymes in the brain, which cause emotional responses within the body – states we recognize as stress, calmness or happiness – and can influence everything from your blood pressure to your buying decisions.

Interesting 🙂

feeling blue?

In the 1800s a family in eastern Kentucky started producing children who were blue. In was apparently the result of a recessive gene and in-family breeding. The family lived an isolated life and there was little opportunity to mix with others. Medically, the condition is called methaemoglobinaemia – the ability to carry oxygen in the blood is reduced resulting in it being a darker colour. As eastern Kentucky became more populated there were fewer children born with the condition though the gene still exists today. See here for more details and the original story.

This is not perhaps the only case of blue people. The picts in Scotland were known as blue people. They fought naked with their bodies painted with woad – a blue colorant. And there is also the Ainu, people indigenous to Japan whose skin was often described as blue. Some people believe there was an ancient human race – the blue moovians – who lived about 60,000 years ago. But I think this might be new-age clap-trap.

Of course, talking of blue people we should mention Avatar. This is a movie that has a lot of hype and I had no interest in seeing it. I didn’t see it for a while but then I thought I should see what it was like. Generally, I thought it was great even if the militaristic movements at the end were a bit over the top. Some people have argued that the movie is racist – that blue is the new black. Apparently, all the humans in the movie are played by white actors and all the blue Na’vi by non-whites; and the blue Na’vi have been said to represent the native Americans in their use of bows and arrows. Worth reading.

red makes you eat less

Yesterday was the first lecture in my module (Colour: Art and Science) at the University of Leeds. In this module I look at colour from a multi-disciplinary perspective covering art, design, physics, history, philosophy, neuroscience, advertising and branding – all perspectives that are needed to understand colour or are strongly influenced by colour. Towards the end of the module I look at colour in branding and advertising and look at the effects that colours have on people’s behaviours and emotional states. One of the frustrating things about it though is that there is a lack of high-quality research about this. In fact, I would go so far as to say that there is more nonesense written about colour (in books and on the internet) than almost any other topic I know!

Take the effect of colour on appetite. Lots of websites and books will tell you the same thing. Red stimulates appetite and this is one reason, for example, why it might be used in MacDonalds’ interior colour scheme. On the hand, blue inhibits your appetite; one reason for this is often stated as being that blue foods are quite rare and therefore we are predisposed to not want to eat blue foods (though what about blueberries!!). But when people write this, how many of them have actually done any research or read any research about these effects? That’s what I mean about nonesense; people write it because they heard it somewhere or imagined that it might be true. Last week I came across some research on the effect of colour on appetite. In this research, published in the Journal of Appetite, and jointly carried out by staff from the University of Basel (Switzerland) and the University of Mannheim (Germany) it was shown that participants drank less from a red cup than a blue cup and ate less snack food from a red plate than from a blue plate. In other words, the opposite of what is commonly believed. The point of this is that more serious research needs to be done to explore the effects that colour has; come and do a PhD in my lab and help to rectify that!!

Of course, the research referred to above does not necessarily mean that people would prefer red food to blue food or that people would eat less food in a restaurant decorated in red rather than blue. It is exactly that sort of extrapolation that is partly responsible for all of the misinformation about colour that is everywhere around us. I have to confess that I myself am sometimes responsible for this misinformation since I was talking to the students last year about the appetite-suppressant properties of blue. I need to stop now …. and go and do some more research.

blue is the favourite colour

Very impressed by this post from Janice’s blog. Who is Janice? One of Canada’s leading colour designers. She’s also a colour consultant.

I have never been to Canada but I know a canadian professor and he is extremely funny. He told me a story that CBC radio held a competition to complete the sentence “As Canadian as ….”, as in “as American as apple pie”. The winning entry was “As canadian as possible under the circumstances“. Very funny. I am convinced this sort of entry could never have won in a similar competition in USA, for example. It’s more like British humour. Reminds me of Monty Python. It’s a nice story. Is it true? Yes, if you believe Wikipedia. And we all believe wikipedia don’t we? See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_identity.

Back to Janice’s post … She raises the question of what is the favourite colour (resulting from polls). She says it is blue, but not just any old blue. Janice says it is royal blue or indigo, as opposed to something like baby blue. I ran a poll, just for fun … you can see the results here, though you have to take part in order to see the results. Blue comes out pretty near the top, of course, with green and purple; though in my fun survey I don’t get into the fine detail of which blue is favourite (warmer or cooler, reddish, neutral, or greenish?). Janice must be referring to some more detailed surveys … interesting.

Janice talks about indigo, lapis lazuli, Picasso and Yves Klein’s experimental work with blue (IKB); all things I talk about in the module I teach at the University of Leeds (Colour: Art and Science). Perhaps Janice should have my job!! Haha!

changing eye colour

On my way to CIC – my favourite colour conference – http://www.imaging.org/IST/conferences/cic/.

A six hour lay-over in Chicago so no excuse not to make a few posts. The first interesting bit of news I just came across is a story in the BBC about a doctor who seems to have developed a laser technique to change eye colour.

Apparently 20 secs of laser treatment can remove the pigment in eyes so that brown eyes become blue. You can read more about the story here. Don’t try this at home though – they are still conducting safety tests and some experts think the treatment could lead to other health problems.