After Image and the Hot Lady

I’ve heard a bunch of people misrepresent this image. If you haven’t seen this, you haven’t been flowing in the dorky viral online color snobs stream the last month.  I hesitated to post it on facebook afraid it might be redundant. But there are enough questions about after image, chroma,  hue and value, and surprisingly wrong interpretations of what is happening.

So first here are the instructions going around the internet: (1). Stare at the blue dot on her nose for 30 seconds (2). Then stare at a white wall blinking often. What do you see?

You saw the beautiful woman in full color right? So the first question I got was how does a black and white image get color? Let me slide down the rabbit whole a bit before we actually answer that. Because, the first thing I was interested in was why the three dots? What is the point of Red Green and Blue? Is this to trigger some kind of full color response in our visual perception?

So if you are curious, try this again. Now without RGB as dots, stare at the yellow + sign on her nose and then look at the white wall.

You get the same exact thing- a full color photo of the woman.

So the first thing to note is that the image you are staring at is full color. Note the green in her lips and the red in her dress. Many people look at the image and because it’s so heavily blue it almost looks monochrome- and we sometimes deceive ourselves into thinking monochrome is black and white. I’m curious how many people already got that and how many thought at first glimpse it was black and white.
The RGB dots have nothing to do with it except to give us a point to stare at. Why the creator of this image did that I don’t know. Anyone have a hypothesis?

If you are curious about how afterimage works, our eyes essentially get fatigued of the color we are staring at and, seeking neutral, start to emphasize the complementary color. Essentially, the dark blue in the woman’s skin is the complement of her light yellow white skin color. For more on the amazing effect of complementary colors check this out.

Now what was really fascinating to me was not just that this was going viral and that three people sent it to me, but that I had just gotten back from TEDxMaui showing the Colorbox and the most impactful piece I showed in the box was “Portal” which deeply worked with the idea of complementary colors and after image.

Complementary lady in actual black and white
More on that in the upcoming TEDxMaui post. For a preview, check out the photos on Facebook from the Colorbox FB page.

Franklin: Come to your Senses!

I was asked by Dick Nelson to summarize my experience of his most recent class. At the same time, Franklin asked me to Come to my Senses!

Following other presentations on the senses, I shared revelations on the interaction of color that I learned in Nelson’s class and explained some of them using biological insights from Margaret Livingstone in her book “Vision and Art: Biology of Seeing”.

32 Poles

With 32 Poles, I was going for a much more subtle effect than in the 3 other pole pages. By using a blue and orange that are complements and are closer in value and as well using a greater number of poles, the steps are more subtle and the effect is more powerful. Almost the entire row of 31 poles will appear orange when the last pole is selected and matches the background. And vis versa, when the far left pole is selected, the rest of the poles look blue.

In addition, the grid on the far left allows you to see the poles against a stronger blue and stronger orange than the extreme left and right poles. It also allows you to clear your eye fatigue by opting for a clear white, black or neutral gray background.

El color es relativo

Does anyone who speaks Spanish care to translate? Color is relative is mentioned in an Argentine publication– Tam Tam.

Nuestra percepción del brillo y la luminosidad de un color depende de sus colores vecinos. Lo podés comprobar con algunos pequeños experimentos. En el primero, deslizando el mouse sobre el panel central cambiás el color del fondo. El segundo es similar pero ofrece la gama completa entre el amarillo y el azul. El tercero trabaja con grises. En todos los casos fijate cómo los colores invariables parecen más apagados, más oscuros, más vivaces o más intensos según cuáles sean sus vecinos. Este fenómeno de la visión ayuda a explicar algunas ilusiones ópticas; por ejemplo, aquella en la que dos casilleros de un tablero de ajedrez están pintados con el mismo tono de gris aunque no lo parezca para nada.

S.h.u. said…


“Our perception of a color’s splendor and luminosity depends on its neighboring colors. It can be proven with just a few small experiments. On the first one, slide your mouse over the central panel and your background color will change. The second one is a lot similar, but it offers the entire range of colors between yellow and blue. The third one works with the color gray. In every case focus on how the invariable colors seem to be more shut down, darker, more vivid or more intense, depending on its neighbors. This visual phenomenon helps explain some optical illusions. For example: the one in which two squares of a chess board are colored in the same shade of gray even though it doesn’t look like it at all.”

You’re welcome 😉

Launch of Color is Relative

Color is Relative is a website dedicated to showing luminosity achieved through simple color combinations. On the site, the image at left is interactive. By moving the mouse over a single swatch the background color of the page will change to the same color. The effect is intended to show the impact of changing the context of color.

In the next month, I will be releasing my next series of paintings that will be based on the color theory I have learned from Dick Nelson.

You can also visit my color page on facebook. Seeing Things, Color is Relative.

The grid seems to change color as you move the mouse over each swatch. Take your time.

This is the alpha version, please let me know your reaction and make comments.


Anonymous said…

Shannon Del Vecchio said…
Wow, it’s fascinating how the center swatches don’t seem to match the background because of the other colors around them…

Anonymous said…
Love the color matrix page. Eager to see art work. Pook

Dana said…
wow!!! this is cool i wanna see some zen shiz on this site..u rock gabe

bp said…
Wow, that’s pretty amazing.

Anonymous said…
Gorgeous colors WOW!