Colour Term Searching

As part of my research activities I have been using Google’s image search function to create a set of interpretations for different colour terms. Colour terms are often misunderstood, particularly less common ones like puce. I started using Google’s image search to help myself understand what hue certain terms referred to whilst compiling my comprehensive list of colour terms. I found it to be a interesting and useful exercise because although there was a degree of consistency in the colours of the images resulting from the searches, there was also a lot of variety. Due to this I felt that it would be beneficial to use the method to generate images for colour analysis as one way of understanding the relationship between a colour and a colour term within the content of the internet.It would also give me a snapshot of the colour of the internet from a specific moment in time.

I chose to continue to use Google for this exercise as the image search is pretty comprehensive and easy to use. I decided that my sample of images for each colour term would be the first 30 results of each search. I chose 30 because it was a round, even number which would give a reasonable sized sample for comparison, without creating an unmanageable and laborious number of images to process. Due to the fluid nature of the internet I knew the results for each of the searches were unlikely to be repeatable from one day to the next. So all of the searches were conducted on the same day, with the exception of purple, which due to two files becoming corrupt, was repeated the following day with slightly different results.

For the first round of searches I chose to use the eleven basic colour terms in English, as defined by Berlin & Kay as the terms for the search. After some initial test I realised that I would have to add the word ‘colour’ as a search term aswell. Although this was less than ideal, it was necessary due to several high profile celebrities, such as the singers Pink and Chris Brown. Following this searches I decided to also use the colours indigo and violet as search terms so that I had a body of images that represented the colours of the spectrum.

After I had collected the 30 images for each colour term I used Colourphon to analyse the colours in each image. I also used Photoshop to average the colours of the image, giving me 90 images for each colour term, with each process showing a different level of colour analysis.


About eleanorbydesign

Graduate of MA Graphic Design at London College of Communication

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