Coloring For Beginners

Lets talk about colors for a bit. Do you know where color comes from? To better understand where color comes from, we must first know what color is. The text book version would go something like this: "Color or colour, is the visual perceptual property corresponding in humans to the categories called red, green, blue and others" (source: wikipedia). Nice Job Wikipedia. Once again you fail! That doesn't tell what color is, that claims that only humans can see color. Ok next source says: "the quality of an object or substance with respect to light reflected by the object, usually determined visually by measurement of hue, saturation, and brightness of the reflected light" ( So it says its the quality of an object, and is effected by light. Well no shit its a quality. What is it? ok forget it. I'm sure most of us know what color is, even if we can't define it properly. Lets just skip ahead to finding out where it comes from. Well I can't answer this myself, so I'll need to do some more research. Let's see what they say about it on the interweb. I've listed a few sources below, and what they say about how color is created.


"Color actually comes from light refracted through prisms. Then light travels through a prism (or atmosphere) is is bent and forms different colors. When something is white it is the combination of all color - as that's how color starts out."

Ah so color comes from light you say? Light refracted through prisms. Where are all these prisms? I don't have any prisms in my house. I don't see any outside. How do these magic prisms know what color to put on things? If color comes from light, then shouldn't the color change when I move? I don't mean the shading. I mean the color itself. How would the light know what is suppose to be red, and what is suppose to be green, etc? Answer: it doesn't. Color does not come from light. Next.


"Why do we see colors? Light from the sun or from a lamp seems to have no particular color of its own. It appears simply to be "white" light. However, if you pass the light through a prism, you can see that it actually contains all colors, the same effect that occurs when water droplets in the atmosphere separate light into a rainbow. A colorful object such as a leaf appears green because when white light strikes it, the leaf reflects only the green wavelengths of light and absorbs the others. A white object such as a white flower appears white because it reflects most of the wavelengths that strike it, absorbing relatively few. Inks, dyes, or pigments in color prints also selectively absorb and reflect certain wavelengths of light and so produce the effect of color.

Although light from the sun appears colorless or "white" it actually contains a range of colors similar to a rainbow. You can see these colors using a prism to separate them out.

White objects reflect most of the wavelengths of light that strike them. When all of these wavelengths are combined, we see white. On the other hand, when all of them are absorbed, and none reflected, we see black.

A green object such as a leaf reflects only those wavelengths that create the visual effect of green. Other colors in the light are absorbed by the leaf."

Ok ok I'm beginning to see the problem people are having. People are getting confused. Things of color can change the color of light. But light does not create color. Its a very wide spread misconception people have that color comes from light. Its not true. Colored light comes from an object that already has color. But I can't really blame people for thinking this way, after all it is what they teach in most schools. Tsk tsk.

Light can effect the shade, hue, and brightness of an object's color, but it does not make the color itself. If you were to color a box red, and then another one a darker shade of red, and place them in the same light, they will still be different shades of red. The color is already there. It does not come from the light, but it can be effected by the light.

So where does color come from? Its funny all the answers we pretend that we have. Can anyone figure it out?

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