Wunderkammer of Color, June 2015 Edition

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Find 13 color resources—including Jude Stewart’s Roy G. Biv—in the Ultimate Guide to Color Collection from MyDesignShop, now 76% off.

Welcome to summer, color fans. Time to plunge our already sunburned paws back into the grab-bag of color and see what’s fresh, sparkling and new.

colors by year


Riffing on my recent series about color as data (catch up with part 1 and part 2 here), let’s start today’s proceedings with a few well-considered infographics where color plays a central role. I thoroughly enjoyed 50 Years of “Avengers” Comic Book Covers Through Colors as a worthy cousin of the many color-palette analyses of movie posters, the Internet and other mass communications. The shift you’ll see takes “Avengers” color-palettes away from bright uncomplicated primaries down into the ambivalent murk of modern action movies.

the hair color of our world leaders


A cheeky infographic by Jody Sieradzi on data visualization community Dadaviz asks a brilliant question: what hair colors predominate among government leaders? The Hair Colors of Our Leaders gives tantalizing answers: baldies, whether natural or shaved, rule most insistently in pockets of Africa. Blondes control governments in Scandinavia and Northern Europe – but also, improbably and possibly artificially, in Chile. North America likes its politicians gray or salt-and-pepper – no surprise there – but auburn rules the roost across Russian and Australia. Sadly, data do not suggest my strawberry-blond son will become prime minister anywhere in the world: only Iceland and Ireland’s leaders have this color hair.

Cabbage by Zsolt Fila

Cabbage by Zsolt Fila on Flickr: http://bit.ly/1Qc9Viv

That, my friends, is an extreme close-up of a cabbage leaf, a nice foil for the New York Times’ recent article Our Ever Green World. I’m a sucker for these lyrical takes on science topics the Times periodically publishes. This one examines new findings in photosynthesis: when exactly photosynthetic plants started to dominate earth; why plants are green in the first place, and our eyes’ hypersensitivity to the color. (I plumb the chlorophyll question in the purple chapter of my book ROY G. BIV: An Exceedingly Surprising Book About Color. Turn to “Purple Earth Theory” for a slightly mind-blowing account about how proto-plants may well have been purple, edged out by greenies much later.)

Bonus round: in this article’s margins I re-discovered another fun color read from 2007, How Do We See Red? Count the Ways. I cheer at Natalie Angier’s combination of telling scientific tidbits with her luxuriant writing style. Dig this quote that neatly sums her article up:

“Red is the premier signaling color in the natural world, variously showcasing a fruitful bounty, warning of a fatal poison or boasting of a sturdy constitution and the genes to match. Red, in other words, is the poster child for the poster, for colors that have something important to say.”

red geranium petal cells by Umberto Salvagnin

red geranium petal cells by Umberto Salvagnin on Flickr: http://bit.ly/1EZZdje

Add this to your Christmas gift list: The Psychology of Color pencil set, offered by The School of Life in London and recently highlighted in Fast Company. You’ll never stop fighting over the green “sanity” pencil, so why not buy two sets and save yourself a boatload of anguish?



Last but not least, I have a proven weakness for color-themed games. (Witness my previous post about fun color apps, heavy on the games.) If you share my predilection, clear a solid hour to play Kolor online – if you’re lucky you can limit the time-wasting to just 60 minutes. Kolor challenges you to match a big background color to one of several smaller color circles. At first it’s super easy, but quickly the color circles proliferate in number while showing a narrower range of shades. It’s a timed game, so your itchy trigger finger better match your wiley color-attuned eyeball.

what kolor is this?


Have at it, color fans, and enjoy!