Color for Developers

Color is important for developers as well as designers, below you’ll find a collection of tools and libraries that make it easier for you work with color in your code.

Colorist: Color Manipulation For WebHeads
Language: Ruby On Rails

“…I decided to write a new library for dead-simple manipulation of colors with an emphasis on ease-of-use and being useful for web developers.”

CSS Colors: Take Control Using PHP
Language: PHP

“While many web sites use powerful programming environments to create HTML, these same tools are usually ignored when it comes to creating Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). This article describes how to take control of your colors in CSS using PHP.

ColorChip
Language: PHP

“ColorChip is a class for working with color in a more convenient manner than the basic RGB and Hexadecimal triplets often encountered in programming, especially web-oriented programming.

Color extract
Language: PHP

Extracts the most common colors used in images

color blindness library
Language: Javascript

This function allows you to simulate common and uncommon color blindness.

color conversion library
Language: Javascript

Convert from HEX, RGB, HSV, CMYK, XYZ, Lab color spaces and then back again.

color matrix library
Language: Javascript

With this library you can apply ColorMatrix’s on colors in pure Javascript.

Can Color Affect Mood?

The short answer is yes. The colors around us do affect the mood that we have. Red can make us excitable and blue or green pastels can calm us down, but there is more to it than that. While there are general associations with mood when it comes to color, the reaction that an individual person can have can be different than someone else. Just like everything else in life there are people who don’t fit into the ‘norms’ that society has, and the reaction to color is no exception to that. Different hues of color can also affect mood in the sense that a dark blue might have a different feeling than a light blue. It’s believed that a lot of these opinions and feelings about colors start in childhood and that people frame their opinions of color very early in life.

Studying young children and their response to color fits into the molds that researchers have seen with adults and how they react to color as well. Whether children are taught these responses by the way their parents react, however, seems unlikely because color – other than learning the names of the shades – isn’t really a topic of discussion. Most people don’t talk about the way that color makes them feel. They don’t really discuss it, it’s just something that is…and it’s hard to define. The psychological and physiological changes that come along with it are marked and noticeable, though, and that shows that the body responds to color even if the brain isn’t actively thinking about whether the color makes the person feel a certain way.

The hue, the saturation, and the brightness of the color all have to be evaluated when it comes to what kind of effect color has on mood. For example, purple is considered to be a power color, but lavender is not – it is more mystic, soothing, and spiritual. It would be a good color for a bedroom or a meditation room, but not such a good color for a room where work should get done or where a person needs to feel empowered. Studies have also shown that girls and boys are about the same in their opinions on color, but girls do tend to be more positive about brighter colors and more negative about darker colors, where boys don’t seem to have that same connotation with bright and dark colors.

Word List Coming

Thank you to the many people who’ve contacted me over the past few days suggesting that I add a word list to the website, not just having a search option.  Seem people are curious and want to poke around so see what people are thinking.

I hadn’t really thought people would be interested in browsing the word list. I expected people would have a word in mind before coming to the website and want to know the voting results for that word.

The emails point to the contrary so I’ll be adding a word list to the website in the next few days.

The Importance of Color in Dreams

Dreams have fascinated people for hundreds of years. The ideas behind what they really are and where they come from have changed, and still not everyone agrees on them. One of the most interesting things about dreams is that some people dream in color and some people dream in black and white. In a waking state, color stimulates emotion. Red, for example, can be angry or exciting. Softer pastels are calming – especially greens and blues. Within a dream, color also evokes emotion, and it also might be created by the mind based on the emotions that are felt within the dream. In other words, you might dream something in a particular color because of the emotion you feel about it, not the other way around.

Most people dream in strong color, and some dream in vague color. Few people dream in black and white, although some do. Color can be optional on many things, of course, so our brain assigns color in dreams to certain objects. An example of this would be dreaming about a blue car instead of a green one. The processing of the dream is then affected by the processing of the color, and this is important to an understanding of how dreams work and what kinds of emotional responses they produce. Unfortunately, a lot of dream researchers of the past have spent very little time looking at color and how it affects and is affected by the dreams of people. They didn’t seem to see it as being important or significant in any way.

People respond to color on various levels. One of these is through the nervous system. It speeds up things like heart rate and breathing in the presence of red, and slows them down in the presence of blue and other, softer colors. Since it does this when the eyes see color while awake, it only makes sense that it would also respond to color that is ’seen’ in a dream. Studies have shown that these dream responses are similar to the responses that are seen when a person is awake, indicating that color has a lot of importance in the dreams of individuals. Not everyone thinks about color as having any kind of emotional response, but the physiological proof is clear and can’t be disputed. Color matters to the way that people feel, even when they’re asleep.

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The Difference Between Color Emotion and Color Semantics

Semantics can sometimes be a problem, because they don’t always accurately describe what we need to say. Conversely, emotions are difficult to convey in words. For a long time, there was a school of thought surrounding what was called “color emotion.” Now that term has changed because it’s been found to be inaccurate. The emotions that colors convey are not the same thing as semantics. The relationship between color and the psychological response of the person seeing it has been studied for a long time, though, and people are always trying to come up with new and better ways to describe what they see and what they feel.

To that end, color-emotion exercises have been created that are designed to work with both semantics and emotion. These ask people to rate how they feel when they look at a particular color and give insight into what a lot of colors mean and how individuals can expect to feel when they are presented with certain colors, along with why that occurs. The study and interest behind color semantics and these kinds of tests came from the color research that started in the early 20th century, and then later from Kobayashi’s colour image scales’ in 1981. Color emotion became the standard term in 1997, but most of the research that was done under that term actually involved semantics instead and so was inconsistent with what it was really called. Some feel the terms are splitting hairs and should be left alone.

In short, color emotion deals with words like happiness, anxiety, and excitement, and color semantics is involved with term such as heavy, light, warm, cool, passive, and active. The distinction, though, is not always an easy one to make, and most people will say that color gives them a certain emotion because of the way it feels. This ties emotions and semantics together very tightly, and it looks like this will always be the way where color is concerned. For some people it has deep meaning and for others it simply provides comfort or a smile, but it generally always evokes some type of feeling. Trying to separate color emotion and color semantics is important from the standpoint of technicalities and research, but not so important to the individuals who look at a particular color and react to it in some way that makes a difference in their lives and their emotions.

First Week Review

The website has been live for just over a week now, what better time for a little review.

Thank you to the nearly 15K visitors who have voted over 35K times on a growing list of words. We’ve already seen some great results, but I’ll review those at a later time.

Below you’ll find some links to blog posts about Cymbolism. Thank you to anyone who took the time to link to Cymbolism, more visitors will make this resource even more helpful:

Devlounge: Cymbolism: An Interview with Mubashar Iqbal
Wisdump: Cymbolism and color sensitivity
Hexday: Cymbolism
Team Forty: Cymbolism | Words & Colors

Please continue to submit your suggestions for words, and keep voting.

Color Association in Different cultures

Depending on the culture, what a color means can be very different. In Taiwan, a person wearing a green hat will make others think that his or her spouse has not been faithful. Yellow means that the person might be a harlot. In China, white is seen as the color for mourning and funerals as opposed to black that’s more common in the West. This is believed by some to be because Hinduism and Buddhism – two of the most popular religions there – both see death as the move to a higher and better plane of existence. Because of that, death has a much more positive connotation. In the West, death is generally seen as an ending and therefore the negative connotation that comes with the color black makes more sense to the average American person, as well as to many people in Europe.

In Islam, gold and green are the colors for Paradise, and green and blue are common colors in that country for many things. They are seen in and around most of the mosques and they are important for peace and happiness. In the United States and other traditionally Christian countries, color is not as associated with church, but it is associated with many Christian holidays. Purple and pastel colors are for Easter, green for Christmas, etc. When a person goes from one country to another, he or she often forgets that it’s not only the language and the food that changes. The culture is totally different, too, and that means that the way that color is presented and interpreted will be different. Even within a culture there will be differences based on other demographics, but they won’t be as pronounced as the more standard opinions that a culture holds overall.

These are just a few examples of colors and their associations that not everyone will be familiar with. There are some more common ones, like green for luck and red for love, but not all countries see things this way. It can be a poor choice to assume that you know what another culture means by a specific color, so asking questions is a good idea. You can also do some research if you’re planning a trip to another country so you know a bit about their culture before you leave. You can avoid offending people that way, get a better understanding of culture and how color affects us, and have a more enjoyable trip.