Talk:Color theory

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Structure of the artikel[edit]

This is one of the most central articles on color (beside the color article)! My proposition on it's structure is: Introduction: (Colortheory is broader than what is stated) Colortheories are theories of how we can put a system of order in the different colors we see. Colortheories make use of colormodels.

Section 1: properties of the different models Dimensions: Nowadays most colormodels are threedimensional (they are based on three properties of color) and are called colorspaces (picture of colorspace), although 2 dimensional models are in use: for example colorwheels. (picture of a wheel) Goal: Theories can be classified according to their goal (mixing, lighting, perceptual,psychophysical, ...). ...

Section 2: a list with links to all colormodels / theories preferrably somehow chronological. The models are in separate wiki artikels. Related models can be introduced. Models that have no name (early theories) maybe can be explained in ful.

Section 3: some history yet just to get the flavor; do not explain complete models (use different article). Maybe a good writer could put section 2 and 3 into 1: introducing properties through historical overview.

BartYgor 23:17, 16 July 2007 (UTC)


'the CMY color model can more easily display a full gamut of colors than can RYB' - surely this statement is incorrect? No colour reproduction system working with a finite range of primary inks/lights etc is capable of reproducing a 'full' gamut. 12:16, 13 July 2006 (UTC)


Under what article would one find quark color theory? Might be a good idea to link it here, possibly disambiguate.

That would be quantum chromodynamics or color charge.
Actually, one might add that to the contemporary theory section as one of the independent disciplines where new developments in color theory might arise. -SharkD 21:29, 26 October 2006 (UTC)


Additive and Subtractive systems are NOT models. Please see Additive Color Subtractive color


I'm firmly against the proposed merger of material from color circle. The color circle is a tool used in psychophysical research into visual perception, and has nothing to do with color theory, which is almost entirely connected with the arts. if it is to be merged anywhere, color circle should join color vision, not color theory. Grutness...wha? 14:24, 20 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I would agree. Also, the redirection of "color wheel" to this page seems wrong. It would be fine if there was a color wheel on the page, but there isn't. Maybe this purpose could be served by the color circle page. Zaiken 05:10, 23 April 2007 (UTC)

Notice that that message is from 2 years ago, and there is no longer a proposal for such a merger. --jacobolus (t) 06:50, 23 April 2007 (UTC)

Another opinion[edit]

Seconded, on the same grounds. One finds a color wheel in the theory of printing and in the theory of painting, with natural media - dyes and pigments, as well as with light on a computer screen. But one finds a color circle in psychophysics. A color wheel is concerned with creating the total perceived gamut, or the best possible approximations to it, as well as providing a rationale for a color scheme; whereas a color circle is concerned with spectral color and the mechanisms of perception. Need to disambiguate the two apparently similar terms, in the body of each article. - yoyo 29 June 2005 13:36 "(UTC)

Goethe and Newton[edit]

I believe the writer has confused Goethe and Newton - Possibly getting them exactly opposite. It is my understanding that Goethe increasaed the amount of green in his wheel. This addition was due to the preponderance of green in the natural world. Goethe tends toward four primaries with green as a primary - somewhat a mixture of light and pigment.

White light[edit]

"White light is composed of the mixture of the three primary hues red, green and blue."

No, white light is (usually) a continuous spectrum. A mixture of red, green, and blue light (that is, with sharp peaks at those frequencies) can produce a metameric match to white.

Color Basis[edit]

"On the other hand, any three (or four or five or six) real "primary" colors cannot mix all the colors in any medium, and this is always true no matter which "primary" colors are chosen and no matter which medium — inks, paints, dyes, filters, phosphors, artificial lights, or monospectral lights — is used to mix the colors. In other words, all mixable "primary" colors are incomplete or imperfect."

For the sake of accuracy, it should be mentioned that this occurs if we only consider a finite number "primary" colors. If we have a continuous range of frequencies that lie in the visible range, we con construct any color. This is how the world "produces" color; however, it is not practical yet to produce continuous spectras. This may seem obvious and theoretical, but this is a page on color theory, and this paragraph is discussing the limitations of color production in a general way. I think that saying "this is always true" is misleading.

Real Color Wheel[edit]

"Dark shades of yellow, oranges, and some reds are called browns by the Real Color Wheel." What, pray tell, is a Real Color Wheel? Seems to me it should either be linked to an explanation, explained in the article, or simply removed.

In fact, on further reading, it seems there are other sections as well that could use Wikifying. -Octavo 18:16, 30 June 2006 (UTC)

This link is to the Real Color Wheel, pray that you will read it and understand. Don Jusko, Real Color Wheel 3-16-8 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:54, 16 March 2008 (UTC)

Yes, mentioning a commercial concept's opinions in this article is unneeded. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:29, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

Edits 08.08.06[edit]

i concur with nearly all the points raised above, and i was generally alarmed at the inaccuracies in the previous article -- especially as it quotes my web site,, as source for the information. i have completely rewritten the page, with apologies to the previous author, in an attempt to make it less inaccurate. more graphics would probably be useful, but i leave that for another time.

i think merging this page would be counterproducive. this topic is a pillar of artistic lore, and it forms a useful contrast to more developed theories of color perception and design necessary to use modern color media. Macevoy 00:32, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

HSL not mentioned?[edit]

I'm surprised that the HSL color model is not mentioned, as it is the most compatible with the idea of color wheels. In fact, I would find a discussion of Hue, Saturation and Luminence as being central to understanding the rest of the article. -SharkD 20:35, 26 October 2006 (UTC)

Unfortunately HSL is a device-dependent color space based on RGB, and is therefore not particularly useful for discussing general color mixing, or color perception. A space like Munsell or the cylindrical coordinates for CIE L*a*b* (L*C*h) would be more appropriate. --jacobolus (t) 12:21, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

New image. Correct?[edit]

The mixture of two colors can be determined by the straight line between them.

I had added this image to the 'Complementary Colors' sub-section, but removed as I'm not sure it's correct. What do you think? -SharkD 23:56, 16 November 2006 (UTC)

No, it's oversimplified, and not shown in a color space for which this is true. In CIE L*u*v* space, mixing of two colored lights would indeed have this behavior (i.e. additive color). But mixing paints or dyes is more complex, and not particularly well represented by this picture. --jacobolus (t) 01:41, 6 May 2007 (UTC)
I would be interested in seeing a comparable image that *is* realistic with regard to actual pigments and dyes. I suppose this would vary with each type of dye or pigment and its formulation or manufacture... Still, as an example of *one* possible scenario (e.g. a single "brand" or company's formula) it would be really neat! SharkD (talk) 23:05, 3 July 2009 (UTC)
You mean for some combination of three particular pigments, is it possible to make a 2d layout that maps the colors of their mixtures? Maybe so, but it wouldn't have any useful generality. Dicklyon (talk) 02:37, 4 July 2009 (UTC)
Yes. It would demonstrate how and why these sorts of calculations are difficult or unpredictable. SharkD (talk) 02:18, 5 July 2009 (UTC)

See also section too long[edit]

The “see also” section of this article is absurdly long, and not particularly informative. The article should be expanded, and links placed in context, to obviate the need for such a list at the bottom. --jacobolus (t) 01:46, 6 May 2007 (UTC)

Comment from[edit]

"I as a scientist feel that this page is competely false and should never be used ."

Moved from articleGurch 04:43, 9 May 2007 (UTC) (talk · contribs · deleted contribs · edit filter log · WHOIS · RDNS · RBLs · http · block user · block log) is just your average run-of-the-sewer vandal. Here's their contribution to Visible spectrum:
My name is Roy Grant Biv and i dont like the use of my name on the internet i think the creator of wikipedia should pay me in royalties for every person who enters this site.
In the future, you can safely just revert them back out of existence.
Atlant 11:33, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

Color Contrast Image[edit]

While it may show contrasting colors, the image OpposingColors.gif is really more of a public health hazard and might cause harm to those with Photosensitive epilepsy. There wouldn't be any problem if somebody would modify it such that the colors cycle once every second or so. Right now, however, it is my position that the risks outweigh any benefits, so I am removing it from this page. BirdValiant (talk) 03:39, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

Wikipedia is not censored for minors sir. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:22, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
I agree with BirdValiant. Furthermore, use of animation in this case is not even necessary. There are satisfactory non-animation methods of exhibiting contrast. A static image with concentric boxes of contrasting color should suffice. SharkD (talk) 09:53, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
That image is horrible (contributes little to understanding; much to headaches), and should be removed ASAP. (also, minors have nothing to do with it) --jacobolus (t) 10:25, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
Stop trying to censor wikipedia. WIKIPEDIA IS NOT CENSORED —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:55, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
There is a difference between censorship and preventing people from getting physically hurt. BirdValiant (talk) 01:02, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

External Link(s)[edit]

After carefully reading the WikiProject_Spam page, respectively the section "I will never insert links to my own sites [...]", I'd like to propose a link to my website here. I made a color wheel styled(?) HSL color picker you'll find here. I used HSL color space because I think it's the easiest to refer to. The model is build as HLS color space, as the human eye is most sensitive to hue and light(ness). (By the way, an internal link of the article unpurposly is named HLS as opposed to HSL..). The link to my page could be > Color wheel styled HSL color picker <, or what you think is appropriate.

Thoughts about other external links:

Color Theory Tutorial by Worqx : has some sections I don't agree, and some I think are wrong.

A symmetrical model of color vision : the contribution is not obvious to me.

X11, HTML, WEB colors : does not show in my internet explorer 6 and is, hm, not soo good.

Interactive Color Wheel : hm, needs Java (as mentioned) and is not representing full color space (hue in 5° steps).

Interactive Color Wheel by Adobe : is what I'd call a color schemer and is also not representing full color space (hue steps in the center of the color wheel ...)

Color Guide : (temporary?) 404 not found

ColorImpact, Interactive Color Wheel : could use a hint it's commercial software?

Software for Color Theory simulation : instead of "Software for Color Theory simulation" maybe better something like "Software for simulating the additive mixing of RGB color".

Gentleblueeyes (talk) 12:59, 8 April 2008 (UTC)

I started some cleanup. The relevant policies/guidelines are WP:EL, WP:SPAM, and WP:NOTLINK --Ronz (talk) 15:54, 28 October 2008 (UTC)

Mired scale[edit]

I'm not sure the Mired scale is the best for this article. It requires that readers read another article (about an obscure topic) in order to figure out what it is. The point that it is being used to express is that color is related to temperature, so a temperature scale should suffice. SharkD (talk) 04:54, 18 February 2009 (UTC)

Mireds are just reciprocal degrees, a more natural scale for color temperature, but I agree with you that just listing temperature in Kelvins is more common and more accessible, and probably more reasonable for this article. –jacobolus (t) 00:48, 27 January 2011 (UTC)

This article has confusing information about color temperature being applied to the terms warm and cool, which are part of color schemes. If you're going to discuss composition, design, painting, etc., then color schemes are appropriate. Color temperature has to do with physical properties of light, whereas color schemes (warm/cool) have to do with our emotional reaction to color. Don't mix the two concepts. Aknicholas (talk) 01:53, 19 September 2011 (UTC)

Unhelpful Redirect Problem[edit]

I was redirected to this page from pastel colors. I went there in hopes of either seeing examples of them or at least finding resources where I could find out more. This article, to which pastel colors redirects, only mentions them once and it is in passing. There either needs to be more information provided about them or the redirect should be undone and a separate page should be made. (All IMHO, of course.) (talk) 17:21, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

I second this issue. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:30, 26 January 2011 (UTC)

If somebody can write a draft in their userspace of an article on pastel colours (doesn't have to be long but does need to be written from reliable sources) then there shouldn't be any problem getting the redirect deleted and the draft promoted to an article. --DanielRigal (talk) 22:15, 26 January 2011 (UTC)
I agree that a redirect is entirely unhelpful, and should be deleted. There really isn’t any encyclopedic content to put at “pastel colors” though; it would just be a dictionary definition. We already have an article about pastels, which explains “Most brands produce gradations of a color, the original pigment of which tends to be dark, from pure pigment to near-white by mixing in differing quantities of chalk. This mixing of pigments with chalks is the origin of the word "pastel" in reference to "pale color" as it is commonly used in cosmetic and fashion venues.” –jacobolus (t) 00:37, 27 January 2011 (UTC)

"Colory" theory[edit]

Is this a typo? I can't find many hits of this spelling on Google, and it seems a likely typo to make since it's two words in a row with -ory on the end. And there doesn't seem to be any etymological reason for adding a -y on the end of color.Soap 14:19, 31 May 2011 (UTC)

Looks like a tyop to me. Heyzeuss (talk) 19:57, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

Partitive mixing[edit]

There is no mention of partitive mixing (or optical mixing) anywhere in Wikipedia. It is the kind used by the pointillists. If you make lots of little dots close together, stand way back, and blur your vision, you get different color mixtures than if you mixed the paint before applying it to the canvas. For example, yellow and blue produce gray, not green, as in a paint mixture. Orange and ultramarine produce gray, but in a paint mixture they are black. Red and green, also complimentaries, produce gray, but, again in mixed paint, they are nearly black. I would like to see more information reconciling partitive mixing, additive mixing, subtractive mixing, and opaque paint mixing. Heyzeuss (talk) 19:57, 22 September 2011 (UTC)


"From there it developed as an independent artistic tradition with only superficial reference to colorimetry and vision science." I really don't think that this is suitable for a Wikipedia article. It is neither neutral, nor substantiated.Amadeus webern (talk) 14:53, 22 December 2011 (UTC)

That sounds like a fair description of someone's conception of what the topic of "color theory" is about. But the whole first half of the article is unsourced, and it's unclear to me whether the term "color theory" is usually interpreted with that meaning. Rather than patch this particular unsourced statement, it might be better to find some sources about the topic and use them to frame it better, fixing the lead in the process. Dicklyon (talk) 17:55, 22 December 2011 (UTC)


Rewriting by seems rather purposeless, other than to add his two bits. Editing for the sake of editing and ego.Brownwn (talk) 18:28, 13 October 2014 (UTC)

"Color harmony function"[edit]

The color harmony function thing is just sort of an abuse of mathematical notation that (a) adds nothing to the article and (b) sorta personally offends me as someone that's ever looked at a piece of math and thought "yeah, that was cool". Can we get it out of here? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2601:1C0:5202:8860:4492:ED60:7D44:16AF (talk) 07:31, 19 May 2016 (UTC)