Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Do You See What I See?

Have you ever wondered if other people see color the same way you do?
How would you ever find out?

If, for example, I see the grass, and to me, it looks green, then it is likely that however it looks to you, you've learned to call that "green," too. And while if you see green the way I see red, I'd think that grass that color would look really weird, to you, it would seem normal.

Also, I can see 17 shades of red, and still recognize all of them as "red," even though they are not the same. How do we do that? How do we place colors into categories, so we know which is which? Where does "red" stop, and pink, orange or purple begin? How do you know? And do we all agree?

I've pondered these questions more than once.

Yesterday, my son sent me a link to this video:

Especially where they talk about the testing, with the two different groups finding different questions "easy."

While watching this, I wondered if what they are seeing differently, is that they categorize color not by frequency, but by what is called "color value." Value is defined as the relative lightness or darkness of a color.

My first experience with color value was when I started quilting. Some quilts really use color in fabulous ways, choosing not only for the hue (what we typically just call color), but for their value. When I first became aware of this, I also became aware that I could not order color samples by value, at all. My perception of light or dark was too connected to the hue, and/or to the surrounding colors.

Turns out, there is a tool that makes it simple.
Here's a link to one I chose because it's the first one that showed up when I searched. If you actually want to get one, look around. This is only so you can see what it is.

Basically, it's colored plastic that you look through. It filters what you see by removing most of the hue, and you'll see a grayscale version of the colors and patterns- and be able to match the darkness and lightness quite easily.

Playing with these is really fun.
Start with a bunch of fabric samples, and without looking through the filter, try to match them up by relative darkness and lightness. Then, look through the filter, and see if you would still sort them the same way.
Or, do it the other way around.
While using the filter, sort the fabrics. Then look to see how different the hues might be, even though they have the same value.
It's very interesting.
You'll get better with practice, and eventually should be able to discern between hue and value without being distracted by either..

Using both things correctly can make or break a quilt's design.
I found someone's blog that has an example of a quilt made with attention to the color value, and it even includes two pictures of the same quilt, one in color, and one in grey scale, so you can really clearly see how it works.

Back to the video... it was the description of the tribe having a word for "dark colors" and one for "light" colors, and that water was considered "white" while the sky was considered "black" that made me wonder whether that is the difference in how they categorize color. I'll probably never find out, but it makes sense to me.

No comments:

Post a Comment