Colour Theory... What's the deal with the palettes I'm using?

Colour Theory… What’s the deal with the palettes I’m using?

Conversations with my girlfriend meander wonderfully. She is currently working toward her PhD reading Art History, so that is often one of the topics. Inspiring, I listen to her, and try to learn as much as possible. I am an outsider to this world but the talk makes me think a lot about what I produce and what merit it has. It also makes me think about what I might do next.

Following a recent conversation, I wanted to write this blog to add some final pieces of context to my current interest in colour palettes.

Binary Numbers

The Binary Numbers project was changed earlier this year following Trump’s inauguration. The original was inspired by simple musings on ‘Data as Art‘. It was updated again in 2014 after the work had stalled due to technical reasons. I increased the complexity of the images, and incorporated ‘Heritage Colour Palettes‘.

But the end of last year and the beginning of this were exhausting. Two months were spent in protest:

But it seems that this alone was not able to “tear the wheels off a tanker in Tienanmen Square…” and so I decided on something uplifting. For myself, and for the viewer.

Cinema Palettes is a fantastic Twitter account that takes a scene (not necessarily iconic) from a film and analyses the scene’s colours, presenting back to us, the palette used.

I had been following it for a while and I became curious as to what I might be able to do with it in the configuration of my Binary Numbers.

And so from January this year I adapted the Cinema Palettes concept into this work using 50 palettes ( including a few self-created ones).

The new images are probably a little brighter than the heritage ones; the colours do seem to be a little more saturated. As you might expect for the big-screen.

The change to the project worked well for cinema lovers. I could highlight the best newly-generated images as well as reference the film the original colours came from.

What really interested me is whether, looking at the image out-of-context, it would be possible to derive the film, or even the scene? Could the new abstraction still be in some small way, a recreation of that cinematography? Could it evoke a sense of what that movie is? or the director’s style?

I’ll leave that up to the reader to decide 😉

The complete set can be found here (updated daily): and here is a small highlights reel.

Painter Goblin

We’ve discussed the Painter Goblin a lot recently. There are a number of facets to this work around serendipitous engagement with collections, creative commons, and so on. It also continues this work with palettes.

At the time of writing there are 37 palettes being used by The Painter Goblin. Only two have a strong provenance with the Cinema Palettes (they did not work as well with the larger format images being produced).

In my first blog on The Painter Goblin I describe the Zine and my interest with false colour. In a later blog I try and expand on this a little more.

Originally I was driven by the aesthetics of the output from the bot. In running the project and developing it further my interest has come back around to the idea of mirroring a style, or sense of feeling evoked by an original source image. This has manifested itself more so as I find new ideas and implement those.

A small tour of Canada and the US earlier in the year helped me to think about what new palettes could look like.


Some the results can be found below. I’ve deliberately chosen these for their sense of parody and humour. The Kokoni ‘print-test’ / Westminster Abbey comparison is my favourite realisations of parody so far, transforming the Gothic wooden architecture of the building into an almost futurist vision.

Anyone interested in seeing more, just follow The Painter Goblin on Twitter. Can you figure out where the original palette inspiration came from? What are your thoughts on the generated image?

I am still developing the project. Palettes are a really fun thing to work on as part of that. If you have an idea for a new one you’d like to see the Painter Goblin adapt then tweet at them, or let me know in the comments below.