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Naming Colors

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People have given many names to the colors they see. When Isaac Newton wrote down the colors he saw in the rainbow, he chose to break them out into seven names. We still use that list of names today, although you may find it difficult to pick out the color indigo or the color violet somewhere in the room.

A poem written for Jacqueline (Jax) Kirtley in  appreciation for all of her work to create and  refine most of the MVH software.

There are a number of basic color names that people refer to: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, white, and black. But individual people may not agree on what to call a specific block of color. Is it red, orange-red, salmon, burnt-sienna, or watermelon? Naming or distinguishing between colors is a very subjective process.

As you study light and color, you may find that what you think is pure red has more blue in it than the computer’s pure red. Don’t let that confuse you, when it comes to studying color it is not the name of the color that matters most.


Download ColorBasics software (or use the on-line Java version) see a brief tutorial.

What To Do...

In the chart below, guess the combination of red, green, and blue intensity values that would create the color in the left column.
Enter your guess in the Make Colors section of the ColorBasics program and see what color is created.

Red Intensity
Green Intensity
Blue Intensity
Pure Red

Pure Green

Pure Blue







Now make up new colors and name them!
Red Intensity
Green Intensity
Blue Intensity
What Would You Call This Color?

Your Favorite Color:

Your Least Favorite Color: