WHAT IS COLOR?

Color is the range of electromagnetic radiation to which the eye is sensitive. The distribution of wavelength of the incoming light is the property that creates the perception of color. There is a continuum of colors that can be perceived by human vision that is demonstrated in nature by the phenomena of the rainbow produced by sunlight interacting with raindrops. The colors vary from many shades of red (600-750 nm. wavelength), through orange and yellow (570-600 nm.), through green (490-570 nm.) to blue and violet (380-490 nm.).

We are developing a color model that will identify and describe colors based upon human perception. It utilizes three parameters; the color or hue or wavelength (does it seem to be red, or green or blue or any other general color term); the purity, or saturation or chroma which describes how much of the color appearance can be attributed to a unique hue (or color or wave-length); and the value or brightness or lightness, which relates a color to an equivalent achromatic scale. The latter parameter describes how much of the incident light is being reflected compared to a white surface (100%) or to a black surface (0%).

We are creating an interactive, web based software and mobile application tools that can be used by artists, engineers, scientist, educators, medical personnel, the military and students in defining how colors relate and correspond to one another. The model itself would function to allow for the mapping of specific colors, color space and all its complements in various formats.

Color identification by means of common names (red, blue, etc.) is inadequate for the identifica- tion of the spectrum of colors available to us. In order to provide greater accuracy and specificity, we are proposing a color identification system based on a colors location on a Cylindrical Cartesian coordinate system, which would use degrees (0 - 360) to identify hue, a scale (0- 100+) to identify chorma/saturation, and percent (0%-100%) to identify value/lightness/brightness. A bright orange might be identified as 30h, 82c, and 78v. Hue is an identification of a spectral region, chorma/saturation describes the purity of a color, and value/lightness/brightness identifies a color relative to black (the absence of all light) and white (the presence of all light).

It may be easiest to describe our model as a “point cloud” or a mass of floating marbles (each marble identifies the location of a specific color) with which the viewers can navigate around and through, allowing them to not only see the location of a specific color, but also see its’ location in relation to all other visible colors.

Color is a universal concern of all design, art and science disciplines. It is one of the most widely misunderstood visual principles. The genesis of this misunderstanding stems from the fact that most people believe that color is a physical property of an object rather than the human percep- tion and interpretation of visible wavelengths (consisting of hue, saturation and value) that emanate from, or pass through an object under illumination. For the most part, color systems are still being presented as two-dimensional or as a two-dimensional depiction of three-dimensional models.