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text
Special Effects for Color
Necessity may be the mother of
invention, but it is our continual quest
for change that leads to innovation. This
principle has governed color research
over the ages.
In ancient Egypt, Cleopatra couldn’t
exactly send a slave to the drugstore for
a new lipstick. So the Queen of the Nile
turned instead to her cosmetic wizards,
who transformed flower blossoms and
fine clay into a cornucopia of lip and
cheek rouges and crushed ant eggs
into eyeliner.
Artists spent centuries as veritable
prisoners in their studios until the inven-
tion of pigment tubes, which finally
allowed them to paint
en plein air. The
Impressionists’ extraordinary marriage
of color and light would have been
impossible had they not taken their
palettes and brushes outdoors.
Today’s technological advances in
printing have left no new colors to create,
so where do we turn for the next wave in
color innovation? Just as the ever-changing
sunlight on a landscape inspired the
Impressionist painters, metallic, opalescent,
and fluorescent special effects can trans-
form the way we perceive color. These
shimmering finishes catch our eye in
subtle or dramatic ways, capturing and
reflecting light while adding surface interest
and a fresh dimension to the spectrum.
The psychological implications of
these special effects also offer designers
a new avenue for reaching out to their
target markets. Fluorescents pop with
an energizing youth and vitality, while
metallics and opalescents speak quietly
of refined taste and exclusivity.
Do you want to imply affluence?
From antique chalices and crowns to the
cry of “Eureka!” in the gold rush days,
shiny metallics have always held a special,
moneyed allure for both the obvious
intrinsic value of the ore itself and its
use as coin of the realm. But today, the
very mention of the word
gold or silver
conjures images of power and success.
These colors adorn the best athletes in
the world at the Olympic Games and
are reserved for the most prestigious
customers by credit card companies.
Interestingly, even though gold is
the more precious of the two metals, silver
has greater appeal to luxury car buyers in
Asia, Europe, and the Americas, accord-
ing to DuPonts annual Global Color
Popularity Report. Since icy grays con-
tain none of the warmth associated with
gold tones, silver implies an aloofness that
sets it apart from the mass market. After
all, we say the rich are born with silver
spoons in their mouths, not gold.
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