Jaz Parkinson made color signatures for classic novels. Basically, mentions of colors were tabulated and the results are shown as stacked bars, so it's fairly basic, but if you know the novels, these will mean something to you. For example, here are the signatures for Alice in Wonderland and Of Mice and Men.
Arthur Buxton plotted the most common colors of Penguin Publishing science fiction colors and arranged them over time. Also available in print.
I wonder if there's a good way to show connections between the titles or the different covers for each title.
Now that you know how color labeling changes by gender, I bet you're wondering how it varies by language. Dave Oleson and Dawn Ho had a look in this simple color wheel. You can hover over colors for labels by country, and you can search for colors via text box.
On the whole, it looks like countries have extremely similar conceptions of color. Type "blue" into the search box, click on the different countries, and you can see the overlap. There are outliers though. Some narrower colors - such as "purple" - are used much more in Japan than in Russia. The use of certain modifiers such as "light" are used pretty uniformly across the color spectrum in English, but much more prevalently in the Blue-Green region in Japanese.
I wish there were a better way to see differences between countries. Luckily, you can download the data and have a look yourself. [Thanks, Dave]
Update: When you search for a color and then click on the flags, you can see the differences between countries.
That's a dot for each of the 2,000 most commonly-used color names as harvested from the 5,000,000-plus-sample results of XKCD's color survey, sized by relative usage and positioned side-to-side by average hue and vertically by gender preference. Women tend to use color names nearer the top, men towards the bottom, and the dashed line represents the 50-50 split (equal usage by both sexes).
While his original version was static, the interactive version lets you sort by hue, saturation, brightness, popularity, and name length. Most importantly, you can see the color names now when you mouse over. I like the vertical spectrum of purple, where women use names like bright lilac, orchid, and heather, and men tend to label similar shades as purplish, lightish purple, and oh yes, very light purple. [Thanks, Stephen]
Expanding on his Vincent van Gogh pie charts, Arthur Buxton minimalized famous paintings from ten artists into more of everyone's favorite chart type. The color distribution of each pie represents the five most used shades in each painting. Like the first time around, you're either loving this or foaming at the mouth.
We've seen a number of looks at movie poster cliches, but this is the first time I've seen how the color of movie posters have changed over time. Vijay Pandurangan downloaded 35,000 poster thumbnails from a movie site, counted the color pixels in each image, and then grouped them by year and sorted by hue.
Some thoughts from Pandurangan's designer friend Cheryle Cranbourne:
The movies whose posters I analysed "cover a good range of genres. Perhaps the colors say less about how movie posters' colors as a whole and color trends, than they do about how genres of movies have evolved. For example, there are more action/thriller/sci-fi [films] than there were 50-70 years ago, which might have something to do with the increase in darker, more 'masculine' shades.”
There's no mention of the blanked out 1924. That must've been a sad year. Oh wait, there were movies during that year, so there was either a massive ink shortage or it's just missing data.
After a chat with his color deficient friends about how Vincent van Gogh's paintings seem to appeal to all eyes, Kazunori Asada used visual filters to see how the paintings looked to the colorblind. The experiment produced some interesting results and musings:
Was van Gogh partially color vision deficiency (anomalous trichromat)? Perhaps using a strong color vision deficiency (dichromat) simulation was the wrong approach. How about carrying out the simulation by removing the middle portion of normal color vision, maybe then I could see van Gogh’s pictures in a better light?
The color choices for van Gogh's popular paintings seem less out there with the filters. The greens in the sky of Starry Night, for example turn to yellows.
A colorblind van Gogh though? Probably not. Either way, don't forget to pick your colors wisely. Asada has an easy-to-use tool to see what your own images look like to others.
Slate places cartoon characters from past and present within the frame of a color wheel.
Why are the Smurfs blue? Why is Doug's Beebe Bluff purple? Our aim is not to answer these existential questions. When asked why the Simpsons are yellow, Yeardley Smith (voice of Lisa) explained only that Matt Groening "thought that it would be really funny if, when people watched The Simpsons, they thought that maybe the color on their TV was off."
Totally ridiculous. And that's what makes it fun.