6 History of Color Wheel Part 2

Welcome back to my salute to the gorgeous, fallible history of color wheels through the years. The first post on color wheels rolled through the mid-1800s, when Enlightenment-era values of close observation and the scientific method exploded many then-prevalent theories, while simultaneously expanding the flat color wheel into bold new shapes.

Take mathematician Tobias Mayer’s color triangle, first introduced to much hullabaloo in 1758 and shown above in a simplified version by physicist Georg Christian Lichtenberg. Mayer’s clear-eyed premise reflected his quantitative background, while proving remarkably useful for everyday color mixing by working artisans. Mayer began with the notion of three “pure” colors - red, yellow and blue - and chose cinnabar, gamboge, and azurite as the optimal pigments to represent each. He migrated these pure colors to the three corners of a triangle, then filled in the triangle’s body with progressive gradations between these pure shades. Mayer’s original triangle included 12 gradations on each side, representing the maximum degree of variance he believed the human eye could perceive; Lichtenberg slimmed this down to 7 gradations per side. In Mayer’s triangle, one could step from one pure-color corner to the next and know at each step exactly what proportion of red, yellow and blue comprised that color. The triangle’s central block had an exactly equal proportion of red, yellow and blue (r4y4b4, in Mayers’ notation). Mayers’ full color-triangle added a black-and-white axis to this mix, showing how systematic additions of these colors brightened or darkened colors.
All in all, Mayers’ algebra brought his color universe to 819 shades - woefully short of the dizzying range in any modern paint store, but still not too shabby. Mayers’ thinking spawned numerous other color triangles, including the 3-D version pictured below by Johann Heinrich Lambert.

Mayer lives on in our modern incarnations of color as CMYK (cyan-magenta-yellow-black/white). Any crackling cathode-ray television with its glowing color pixels operates more or less according to his precepts.

The painter Philipp Otto Runge was the next German to corner the market on color wheels and their related manifestations. His 1807 model took Mayer’s notion of three “pure” colors, plus black-and-white, and spread these ideas over and inside a 3-D color sphere (complete with cross-sectioning). Goethe gave Runge a conclusive shout-out in his 1810 landmark work, Theory of Colors, but Runge’s color notoriety was short-lived. In 1839, his model gave way to Michel Eugène Chevreul’s hemispherical system (below).

Chevreul arranged his 72 colors in a hemisphere, with similar proportional relationships between shades as those posited by Mayer. The use of black and white as a lightening or darkening agent was alluringly called the “nero” factor. Chevreul’s biggest scientific accomplishments spill beyond his color hemisphere: a past-master of animal fats, he invented an early form of soap and pioneered the study of gerontology while living himself to age 102. He also described a phenomenon now called Chevreul’s illusion: the way two identical colors of different intensities, when placed adjacent to each other, seem brighter at the edge where they join.

In 1900, Albert Henry Munsell’s cylindrical system (above), brought color theory into the twentieth century with an appropriately futuristic visual model. Munsell opted for a three-dimensional cylinder, in which the three axes showed hue, value (lightness or darkness), and chroma (color purity). In quantifying color using these three values, Munsell’s model described colors more scientifically than previous models, which themselves cracked the color wheel concept wide open in favor of more ersatz shapes: Hermann von Helmholtz’s cone in 1860, William Benson’s tilted cube in 1868, and August Kirschmann’s grandiloquent sounding “slanted double-cone” from 1895.
Munsell’s color cylinder was the stake driven in the heart of the history of daffy color wheels. A few models have emerged since Munsell - notably CIELAB and CIECAM2 - but Munsell’s system is still used by, among others, ANSI to identify skin and hair colors for forensic pathology, the USGS for matching soil colors, in prosthodontics for selecting tooth shades for dental restorations, and by breweries for matching beer colors.
Have color wheels rolled entirely out of the historical frame? Mercifully, not quite. COLOURLovers spies unusual color wheels in everyday life, like this panoply arranged by Bright Lights Little City (an online shop specializing in lampshades made of cocktail-umbrellas). In an equally liquid vein, MOMA offers its Color Wheel Stick Umbrella. Design Observer co-founder Jessica Helfand praised the infinity variety of wheels in design in her book Reinventing the Wheel.

However inadequate, scientifically speaking, it is to describe the color-spectrum using a wheel-shaped model, there’s an irresistible fitness about marrying circles with color. As a geometric figure, circles possess a certain strength, a self-contained quality in which a smooth, unperturbed body can be imagined to hold an entire universe. Sometimes the pod will crack, spilling its contents with rampant energy, or maybe the circle holds indefinitely. For an entity as slippery and ubiquitous as color, only a circle can be imagined as a perfect enough shape to contain all of it.

About The Author

This blog was created by ELO DESIGNER to share his wealth of knowledge and researches with other designers and design lovers, to give them guidance and inspiration. Comments and suggestions are always appreciated. Thank you. Follow my daily design links on Twitter or Add me on your social network.

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3 History of Color Wheel Part 1

How many ways can you reshuffle the rainbow? Three, as a matter of fact, if modern color theory is to be believed: Pantone numbers for print designers and brand managers; hex, RGB, and CMYK values for web designers; and CIELAB and CIECAM02 color models for the scientific community. But while the science of color models is largely settled, all that rigorous theory still doesn’t quite squeeze out the sense of fallible humanity underpinning the history of the color wheel.
All it used to take was a load of brilliant chutzpah, a dogged sense of orderliness, and just a smidgen of actual science to impose your personal order over the color universe. This post and the next salute the color giants of centuries past and their often-fanciful, sometimes inaccurate, but always wildly rollicking wheels.

Slightly dotty in the science department but much-loved by generations of art historians and philosophers, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Theory of Colours coincided with this wheel (left) he designed in 1810. In the book, Goethe rebutted Newton’s color-spectrum theory by imagining darkness not just as absence of light but as its own active force. As light struck dark, in Goethe’s view, their battle threw off observable sparks of color.
During the week, Goethe devoted himself to such legend-building stuff as inventing the Italian tour, discovering the human intermaxillary bone, and giving voice to Sturm und Drang and Weltliteratur. But Goethe spent his weekends breathing on glass panes, prodding chocolate-froth bubbles, and flapping his arms in broad daylight, then jotting down how colors changed in each observation. The resulting catalog is an impressive confluence of exhaustive scientific inquiry and pointillistic word-art.
But Goethe had quite a few predecessors, some more wedded to the wheel-shape in quantifying color than others. (It’s an oddly Germanic list, too, these would-be color scientists.) In 1686, Richard Waller’s "Table of Physiological Colors Both Mixt and Simple" offered a handy table for cross-referencing colors one might find in nature samples. If a shade didn’t match exactly, Waller explained, it was a simple matter to locate where on the table’s color-continuum that shade might fall:

The table format, as is obvious to us today, had serious limits primarily because of the vast number of shades that fell between the divisions in color in any table. Even vast catalogues like the Pantone-esque Viennese Color Collection or Complete Book of Samples of all Natural, Basic, and Combined Colors, compiled by Johann Ferdinand Ritter von Schönfeld, in 1794, couldn’t catalogue every single color – and comprehensive catalogues also tended to be huge, unwieldy and expensive.

In 1769, Jacob Christian Schäffer – a naturalist, inventor and German Evangelical superintendent of Regensburg – tackled this natural limitation of the table format in his own color system. He gave blue, red, and yellow pride of place in his hierarchy, explaining how these primary colors could be combined to create a multitude of shades in between:

Photograph © 2002 Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. via The Creation of Color in Eighteenth Century Europe by Sarah Lowengard
No wonder color scientists hewed back towards color wheels and other means of suggesting an infinite color continuum. [Image via] Ignaz Schiffermüller was a Viennese butterfly expert whose 1775 color wheel was designed to help him accurately identify the colors he encountered in nature studies:

The color wheel above rolled hard on the heels of Moses Harris’ 1766 model from the Natural Systems of Colors. This particularly fine specimen was the British entomologist’s attempt to explain the color interplay he saw in his own favorite kind of bugs, flies:

Although it would be some time before the color wheels concept finally took over, the notion of suggesting color relationships through smarter information design had taken root.

Next Time History Of Color Wheel Part Two
About The Author

This blog was created by ELO DESIGNER to share his wealth of knowledge and researches with other designers and design lovers, to give them guidance and inspiration. Comments and suggestions are always appreciated. Thank you. Follow my daily design links on Twitter or Add me on your social network.

If you enjoyed this post, please retweet or stumble to say thanks!


5 Best Ways To Make Your Personal Branding Successful

What is personal branding? Personal branding is something everyone in business and marketing wants to do, but many fear that it cannot be done well. In terms of marketing, branding helps a business focus on what defines their services and products and sets them apart from the competition. In the business world, branding can be extremely helpful. However, for a business professional, the notion of personal branding may seem like a bridge too far.

Does personal branding lead to selling out or effective communication?

What is the Goal of Branding?

Personal Branding

Image courtesy 123RF Stock Photos

Perhaps semantics get in the way of discussing personal branding. To a certain extent the goal of personal branding is to communicate to others what you can do better than anyone else. Your brand includes your reputation and the day to day skills and results you achieve.

To a certain degree we engage in personal branding already with how we dress, what we drive, and how we interact with colleagues and customers. Personal branding has gained traction with the prevalence of social media, though it’s a topic that dates back to Tom Peters’ article “Brand You.”

Is Personal Branding Necessary?

Personal Branding

Image courtesy 123RF Stock Photos

Perhaps you’ve always worked hard. You have a great reputation and a solid resume. Do you really need to think about personal branding?

In certain industries a personal brand may not pay off right away, but consider Robert Scoble, formerly of Microsoft. Scoble worked at Microsoft, but he built his personal brand by interacting with customers as himself, not as a faceless Microsoft employee. When it came time to part ways with Microsoft, all of the networking he’d done as an employee at Microsoft migrated with him to his future projects.

This migratory nature of today’s business climate is perhaps the most important reason to develop a brand for yourself. Reporter Shira Lazar says, “The workplace has become fluid, with young people in particular attaching themselves to one-off projects or events.”

In addition, if you hope to advance your career, many businesses are using social media to find new talent. What they look for is someone who embodies what they’re looking for—namely, the right brand (read “kind”) of person. According to Dan Schawbel, the author of Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success and owner of the Personal Branding Blog, “The social graph is filled with CEOs, celebrities, entrepreneurs and people just like you who can be reached through Facebook’s messaging system without any boundaries or restrictions. Facebook is also a talent search engine and part of the college admission and corporate recruiting criteria.”

Schawbel also points out that personal branding is too accessible to ignore it. “Social media tools have leveled the playing ground and have enabled us to reach incredible heights, at the cost of our time.” (Learn more at his article Personal Branding 101)

How Are We Branding Ourselves?

Personal Branding

Image courtesy 123RF Stock Photos

If you’re ready to give personal branding a shot, keep in mind that a brand is all about identity and communication. Tom Peters makes the following suggestion about creating your personal brand:

“Start by identifying the qualities or characteristics that make you distinctive from your competitors — or your colleagues. What have you done lately — this week — to make yourself stand out? What would your colleagues or your customers say is your greatest and clearest strength? Your most noteworthy (as in, worthy of note) personal trait?”

Once you figure out your personal “elevator pitch” for who you are what you are, think of ways you can let it influence your communication, marketing, work, and networking. Jason Keith of Vista Print suggests, “Stay consistent: if you’ve worked hard to come up with a custom logo, marketing tagline or specific messaging in your marketing materials, make sure you’re always using it, reinforcing it and not changing it.”

When Does Personal Branding Go Too Far?

Personal Branding

Image courtesy 123RF Stock Photos

Personal branding is tricky, and therefore it’s critical to be aware of the ways that it can go wrong.

Aiming for thousands of shallow connections rather than building up several hundred solid connections may well do very little to advance your career. It may even hurt it. Are you connecting as a person with real desires, fears, and dreams? Or are you just trying to get links, follows, and a higher Klout score?

Then again, we can go in the opposite direction.

Shira Lazar shares about her fellow journalists, “We’re transparent and don’t feel the need to hide.” However, we can cross lines by sharing to much of our family business with our social network. Professional boundaries are critical when building your personal brand.

Inevitably a personal brand may be perceived as inauthentic no matter how hard you try. Ben Yoskovitz of Year One Labs suggests that telling the truth about who you are and what you do can be bold and audacious so long as you tell the truth about yourself. In other words, be yourself, not a marketing parody of yourself.

Another drawback to personal branding is the sheer amount of time it consumes, especially if you’re using social media in order to build your brand with new connections. Social network marketing as part of brand building is the most time-consuming form of marketing.

As you commit yourself to making new connections and communicating who you are, don’t lose sight of the projects you need to do. In that case you’d be all talk and no action.

Personal branding is a process where we learn how to talk about ourselves and what we do. Provided it’s an authentic representation of who you are, you may find the personal branding process liberating.

Would you have any other ideas or comments that you would like to share with us?

About The Author

This blog was created by ELO DESIGNER to share his wealth of knowledge and researches with other designers and design lovers, to give them guidance and inspiration. Comments and suggestions are always appreciated. Thank you. Follow my daily design links on Twitter or Add me on your social network.

If you enjoyed this post, please retweet or stumble to say thanks!