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Properties of Color

Properties of Color

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In this lesson you will learn about the basic characteristics and terminology associated with color.

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Tutorial

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Hi everyone. My name is Mario and I'd like to welcome you to today's lesson on properties of color. So for today's lesson we're going to cover the basic characteristics and terminology associated with color and show you a few examples of that in practice. So as always, feel free to pause, fast forward, and rewind at your own pace and when you're ready to go let's get started.

All right everyone, so let's talk a bit about some properties of color starting with a little bit of history about Sir Isaac Newton. And he was an English physicist and mathematician and color theorist who decomposed light into the colors of the spectrum, devised the Particle Theory of Light and created the first color circle. So Newton discovered the color spectrum which are the seven hues of visible light, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet, a range of the spectrum by wave link.

So he shone light through a prism, which you can see here, and that beam of light split into the color spectrum which are those that I mentioned. You can see the rainbow of color coming out the other side. And so out of this he created the first color circle. And it's a bit tough to see here, but the circle has the letters around it that read R-O-Y G-B-I-V which correspond to the colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. And each one of those is a hue, which is quite simply the name of a color. So red is a hue, red orange is a hue, orange is a hue, yellow, and so on.

Now another gentleman by the name of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer and artist who studied the physiological effects of color. And he opposed Newton's analytical data and also created a color circle which looks like this. So he couldn't agree with Newton's data and findings and from his own observations created his own color circle or color wheel.

So let's now talk a bit about a few characteristics of color-- value saturation, and color temperature. So we'll start with value. And value is another term for lightness or darkness. So you can see our various hues in this example changing values going from light to dark. So pretty simple here.

Saturation is another term for the intensity of color, usually refers to the purity of vividness of a color. So in our blocks of color down here the middle hue is the base color. And as you move to your left it's less saturated and you can see that it starts to get really dull and kind of loses its life. If we move to the right of the base color you get the opposite effect. You have a higher saturation and the color appears more vivid and lively.

Now as we saw from the last example, saturation is important for commercial design and it's also really important in photography. So here we have our photo. This is what it looks like untouched. And if I lower the saturation by 25% increments you can see it starts to lose some of that color. If we zero it back out again and go the opposite way, so I'm going to increase saturation by 25%, you can see it starts to get more vibrant. But too much saturation really blows out some of those colors and it kind of creates this unnatural vivid look and can oftentimes resultant in noise and artifacting.

So color temperature is a measure in kelvin used to describe lighting conditions when viewing color. So this is a bit different than what we're used to talking about when it comes to temperature. And if you look at a flame as it gets hotter, it gets bluer. This is a really great photo.

And if we make room again for our color temp chart it gives you kind of a breakdown of color temperature in relation to something else in the real world. So for example, at 1,700 kelvins, which is that top orange there, it's similar to a match flame. And if we jump somewhere in the middle to 4,100 kelvin you get moonlight. And if we go all the way to the bottom you get clear blue sky. So again, temperature is a bit different. The hotter the temperature then the cooler it gets. But typically when we're talking about color temperature it's either warm or cool color temperature.

And if you've ever bought bulbs at a store typically they're rated in wattage and oftentimes color temperature like so. So you can see the differences are minor, but they are quite different and they'll make a pretty big difference when you put them in your home. And you can also see how color temperature would affect the color perception in a design, some sort of graphic design or web design. So on the left you have your warmer gray, on your right you have a cooler gray. And the cooler side almost gets this kind of bluish, purplish hue compared to the warmer.

Now color temperature, as you can imagine, is also very important in photography as it was and is in design. So we're going to look at this awesome photo of sheep in Norway. And I don't know why sheep are so funny to me but-- So you have sheep in this beautiful landscape and notice the changes as we go to a warmer temperature, and then we go back to normal. And then we go to a cooler temperature. And let me step back so you can really see those changes happening instantaneously. So cooler, normal, warmer, back to normal, cooler.

And if we place all these three changes side by side you can really see how impactful those changes in color temperature were. So it's super important. It completely changes the feel of these photos and provides an entirely different mood.

Well everyone, that concludes today's lesson. We'll end with our key terms-- color spectrum, Sir Isaac Newton, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, color temperature, value, hue, and saturation. I hope you've enjoyed this look into properties of color with me today. My name is Mario, and I will see you next lesson.

Notes on "Properties of Color"

Citations

Image of Isaac Newton, Public Domain


Image of Prism, Creative Commons


Image of Newton Color Circle, Public Domain


Image of Color Star, Creative Commons

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Color_star-...

Image of Wolfgang Color Wheel, Public Domain


Image of Color Value, Creative Commons


Image of Color Temperature, Creative Commons

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_temperature

Image of Flames, Creative Commons


Image of Light Bulbs, Creative Commons


Image of Gray Temperatures, Creative Commons

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Grays.svg

Image of Sheep in Norway, Creative Commons




TERMS TO KNOW
  • Color Spectrum

    The seven hues of visible light: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. These hues are arranged on the spectrum by wavelength.

  • Sir Isaac Newton

    English physicist, mathematician and color theorist who decomposed light into the colors of the spectrum, devised the Particle Theory of Light and created the first color "circle".

  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    German writer and artist who studied the physiological effects of color. Goethe opposed Newton's analytical data and also created a color circle.

  • Color Temperature

    A measurement in Kelvin used to describe lighting conditions when viewing color.

  • Value

    Another term for lightness or darkness.

  • Hue

    The name of a color.

  • Saturation

    Another term for the intensity of a color, usually refers to the purity or vividness of a color.