Color Me Informed!

Our response to color is almost primal.  Color can make us desire something or recoil from it.  Color as symbol is an admixture of culturally rooted meaning and deeply personal experience, and it is always evolving.  Yet color is perceived differently and with varying subtly by each of us.  In fact, it is all in our heads – it’s our brains that give objects color.  For all these reasons and more, using words to talk about color, or to search for it on the web, or to communicate it to another person can be very, very difficult.  Which is ironic fitting, as color itself can communication much more than words can say.

Color by Number


Munsell Color Tree

Over time, various systems have been devised to describe color for the purposes of understanding its power, for pigment mixing, printing, color matching and most recently web design.  Of the systems still in use today, like MunsellPantone, CMYK, RGB, and Hexadecimal, many can be used to search for color online, too.  The following online tools use color systems for discovery and creation.


Find images by color or palette

TinEye Labs – Multicolr Search Engine
Allows users to click colors on a palette and uses the hexadecimal system to retrieve Creative Commons images from Flickr.  Provides users with the hexadecimal number of the colors they have chosen.
Copper Hewitt Museum – Our collection by color
Like the TinEye search, users can click on colors from a square palette and the search uses the hexadecimal system to retrieve matches (or near matches) from the museums extensive collection of textiles, posters, and other design & decorative arts items.
hm74g4[1]Hermitage Museum – Search by Color and Color Layout
The former palace of the Russian Czars, The Hermitage is one of the world’s grandest and greatest art museums.  Teaming with IBM you can now search their collection by color and multi-color layout. кру́то!

Create and find palettes from a color or from an image


Color Hunter
Color Hunter is a website where you can find and make color palettes created from images.To find color palettes on Color Hunter, enter a search term in the box at the top of the page. You can search by tag or hex color code or image URL. If you have an image or image url, you can upload it and get a color palette based on the colors in the image.
The makers of the ColorMunki spectrometer have created an online color palette creation tool, which give users access to both the Munsell and Pantone systems.  You can also brown photo generated palettes and user generated, and when you click on the color chip it will find a match in Munsell or Pantone!
COLOURlovers is a social network, as well as a place to find tools for create and sharie color palettes, seamless patterns, and palettes from from photo graphs.  Registration is required for access to some of the tools


Color ‘n Books (including coloring books)


If you want to find books about a specific color or about color in general, chances are that you would like a expert overview about the history, symbolism, or use of color in a certain fields,  Here are some hints for searching our catalog (or any library catalog) with some precision.

  • Add one or two defining terms to your keyword search.  Some good ones for our collection at FIT include:  art, design, fashion, theory, psychology, symbolism, consumer behavior, marketing 
  • If you are still getting a lot of false hits, try searching for your words in the Subject Headingof the catalog, instead of searching everything.  This will go a long way to eliminate off-topic books, like Green is the New Black or Famous for Fifteen Minutes by Ultra Violet, which have little or nothing to do with color.colourhunting
  • Think of alternate terms that relate to color.  Books about Pigment or Dyes might not have the word color in the title or subject, but might still be very relevant.  Books about Trend Forecasting definitely will have great information about color trend cycles.
  • And, yes, we do have coloring books . . . and we also have scanners and photocopy machines.  Just sayin’