Intuition, Mathematically Composed
The Rainbow Cube
The concept that inspired this color chart isn't a new one. I used it intuitively for many years as an artist and then found a mention of it in "The Art of Color" by Itten. The concept, or should I say observation, is that "some colors look heavier than others". While this might seem obvious to many, I wasn't able to find any charts that plotted this experience, so I made my own.
On my charts, I numbered the colors by their relative visual weight, from 0 to 100. (black being the heaviest 100 and white the lightest 0) I noticed several colors that had the same numarical value, so I call them "Color Families". Doing so has enabled me to develop a unique system of composition and is very useful for analyzing others art and use of color. The linear manner in which my charts relate a common attribute of all colors makes it ideal for the creation of color theory.
Also there is a pattern to the color families that, with pratice, can help people use the Rainbow Cube from memory. The green in the exact center of the color spectrum has the same values as pure gray. The red end of the spectrum, with the same values, get a little lighter and the purple end gets a little darker. So it is possible to look at any color and guess it color weight.
(Note: Each horizontal plane of the Rainbow Cube should look like the same value, but may appear lighter or darker on different displays and printouts. Also, I believe the calculations are fairly accurate but were rounded off and made to conform to 12 values. This is most obvious on the light purple of the first chart which souldn't be a negative number.)
So now without further ado, I present the "Rainbow Cube".
Download the 12 page, numbered, Rainbow Cube PDF here 9.5 MB
The "Color Picker" is a simple tool that I designed to work with the Rainbow Cube. It helps locate colors that look appealing together because they relate structurally. The structure I use is the Golden Mean for simple combinations and Phi Revised for more complex combinations.
Find interactive Color Tool here , the most advanced color calculation tool in the world.
The following Color Picker uses the Golden Mean to find three color families. I would then use those three color families in different amounts, 16%, 30%, 54% "Phi3." (Each those three areas can be made up of several colors as long as they are in the same color family.) So 16% of a total area would be filled with the color or color from one color family, 30% of a total area would be filled with the color or colors from another color family, and 54% of a total area would be filled with the color or color from the which ever color family was not yet used. Other proportions of color families can be used but I prefer using ones that relate to the Golden Mean.
(Select to enlarge)
To make a Color Picker, you need a ruler, a pencil, a pair of scissors and two pieces of paper. On the first piece of paper, draw a equilateral triangle and divide one side with a point into the proportions of the Golden Mean, about 62% and 38%. Then connect that point with the point of the triangle on the opposite side.
Next with the other piece of paper cut a strip of paper the same length as a side of the triangle. Divide the strip into 100 equal parts and number the parts from 0 to 100.
Now place the strip horizontally on the side of the triangle that's divided by the Golden Mean. Move the strip up and down, keeping it horizontal, and look at the three places that the three perpendicular lines intersect the strip. The three numbers found on the strip represent color families that work together structurally. The strip can also be moved to the left and right as long as three points are intersected on the number line. The strip can also be flipped upside-down to find even more color combinations.
For more complex color combination the tool can be divided with Phi Revised instead of the Golden Mean.
More detail is covered in my book, "The Structure of a Masterpiece - A step by step guide to color and composition"