Sepia (color)

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About these coordinates     Color coordinates
Hex triplet#704214
sRGBB (r, g, b)(112, 66, 20)
HSV (h, s, v)(30°, 82%, 44%)
CIELChuv (L, C, h)(33, 45, 38°)
SourceMaerz and Paul[1]
ISCC–NBS descriptorStrong brown
B: Normalized to [0–255] (byte)

Sepia is a reddish-brown color, named after the rich brown pigment derived from the ink sac of the common cuttlefish Sepia.[2] The word sepia is the Latinized form of the Greek σηπία, sēpía, cuttlefish.[3]

In the visual arts[edit]

Sepia ink used for writing, drawing and as a colored wash by Leonardo da Vinci

Sepia ink was commonly used for writing in Greco-Roman civilization. It remained in common use as an artist's drawing material until the 19th century.[2] Grisaille is a painting technique developed in the 14th century in which a painting is rendered solely in tones of gray, sepia, or dark green.[4] In the last quarter of the 18th century, Professor Jacob Seydelmann of Dresden developed a process to extract and produce a concentrated form of sepia for use in watercolors and oil paints.[5]

Sepia toning is a chemical process used in photography which changes the appearance of black-and-white prints to brown.[2][6] The color is now often associated with antique photographs. Most photo graphics software programs and many digital cameras include a sepia tone filter to mimic the appearance of sepia-toned prints.[2][7]

Other uses[edit]

In the 1940s in the United States, music intended for African American audiences was generally called race music or sepia music until the development of the expression rhythm and blues (R&B).[8][9][10] There was a magazine for African-Americans called Sepia, which existed from 1947 to 1983 (although the name Sepia was only applied after a change of ownership in 1953).[11]

Acclaimed Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky used a sepia tone in his 1979 science-fiction film Stalker to visually distinguish scenes set in the forbidden Zone from the real world, which is generally portrayed in black and white.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The color displayed in the color box above matches the colour called sepia in the 1930 book by Maerz and Paul A Dictionary of Colour New York:1930 McGraw-Hill; the color sepia is displayed on page 39, Plate 8, Colour Sample A10.
  2. ^ a b c d St. Clair, Kassia (2016). The Secret Lives of Colour. London: John Murray. p. 248–249. ISBN 9781473630819. OCLC 936144129.
  3. ^ Maerz and Paul A Dictionary of Colour New York:1930 McGraw Hill. Discussion of the colour Sepia, Page 179
  4. ^ Sitwell, Sacheverell (2011-09-28). The Netherlands: A Study of Some Aspects of Art, Costume and Social Life. A&C Black. ISBN 9781448203444.
  5. ^ Gettens, R. J.; Stout, G. L. (2012-09-26). Painting Materials: A Short Encyclopedia. Courier Corporation. ISBN 9780486142425.
  6. ^ Präkel, David (2018-05-03). Photography FAQs: Black and White. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 9781350090453.
  7. ^ Long, Ben (2011). Complete Digital Photography. Course Technology. ISBN 9781435459212.
  8. ^ Jaynes, Gerald David (2005). Encyclopedia of African American Society. SAGE. ISBN 9780761927648.
  9. ^ Gillett, Charlie (2011-05-01). The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll. Souvenir Press. ISBN 9780285640245.
  10. ^ Kurlansky, Mark (2013-07-11). Ready For a Brand New Beat: How "Dancing in the Street" Became the Anthem for a Changing America. Penguin. ISBN 9781101616260.
  11. ^ Mia Chandra Long, Seeking A Place In The Sun: Sepia Magazine's Endeavor For Quality Journalism and Place In The Negro Market, 1951-1982, PhD dissertation, Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama, 2011, pp. 5, footnote 16
  12. ^ Green, Peter (1993-06-18). Andrei Tarkovsky: The Winding Quest. Springer. ISBN 9781349119967.