Jorge Zhang

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Childhood Suspicion Confirmed

February 14, 2019

I have recently had the opportunity to test out one of my childhood suspicions: that Crayola has been a bit dishonest with their color names.

I have a lot of crayons

As a kid, I used crayons all the time. One of the things that really bothered me was the fact that I could never seem to find a good red color. There was the color called “Red,” but often times I needed something closer to Scarlet. I knew something was off.

According to the RGB values of the Crayola colors (which I admittedly got from Wikipedia), the Crayola colors are, in fact, a bit off. RGB is a bit confusing, but the rundown is that it stands for Red Green Blue. Screens like the computer/phone you are reading this blog post with right now use RGB values to determine how much red, green, or blue light to use. It is a bit confusing because unlike crayons or paint, the higher the RGB values are (and thus the more light that is being used), the brighter the colors become.

A quick disclaimer: depending on how you are viewing this page, the colors may appear differently depending on your monitor. Still, I hope it shows my point.

As you can see, Crayola is not using exclusively red pigment in their color, “Red”.
Scarlet may be more “Red” than Red is.
Crayola’s Green is almost a shade of Turquoise!
I don’t think I have ever really used Blue, due to the existence “Sky Blue” and “Indigo”. So maybe these colors are a bit off for a reason? It could also be the fact I can never find the Blue crayon when I need it…

The actual crayons appear a bit differently on paper.

Some tests

To be clear, I don’t blame Crayola. I’m actually a bit fascinated by how they make their colors by combining pigments together. I wonder why they don’t just use 100% red pigment for the color Red, but my theory is that they had a bunch of control group studies to see what ratios kids liked the best. Or maybe they were just randomly guessing. Either way, it’s clearly worked.

Anyway, I bring this up because I am working on a new game now that is tentatively called Lords of Color. It’s pretty abstract, which is kind of new for me. The idea is that by using Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow pigments you are trying to make the colors Red, Green, and/or Blue (each color has a different win condition). For now, it is a strictly 3 player game, and I am still trying to work out a way to make the game work with different player counts. I have no idea if it is fun or not, but if you would be interested in playing I would love some playtesters! Just let me know.

© 2020 Jorge Zhang