All about the use of color by artists, scientists and psychologists.
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Are Purple and Violet the Same Color?
Violet is just another word for purple, right? Not quite. The colors may look the same, but in terms of physics, they're totally different. Our eyes have three types of color-sensitive cells, or cones, each specialized to one color: red, green, and blue. These colors lie in order on the visible light spectrum. Despite their specialization, the cones generally combine their forces and activate in the presence of more than one color. Green and orange, for example, both activate the red and green cones, but in different ratios. Violet activates the blue cones in abundance and the red cones a little less. Of course, not all colors are in the light spectrum as we know it: brown, for instance, is not a spectral color, but a combination of many different colors on the spectrum. When you see brown, you're seeing a mixture of light wavelengths that activate different cones in varying ratios to produce a color your brain finally interprets as brown. This is how we see purple: it's a combination of the spectral colors blue and red. Rather than activating blue and red cones in a given ratio, purple combines the cone ratio for blue with the cone ratio for red to come up with an entirely new color.