Exploring Color - applications, tools and resources

Features - Visual Color Wheel

The Basic Color Wheel


Colorist characterizes color in 3 dimensions using hue, chroma (similar to saturation) and lightness (value) coordinates.

The CraveColor Visual Color wheel is a unique adaptation of state-of-the-art color appearance modelling.

Color complements are directly opposite one another on the wheel, and triads are 120 degrees apart (24 index units).

The Visual Color Wheel is divided into 72 hues. For each hue there is a unique chroma-lightness matrix of 100 colors. Thus, the number of colors, which is infinite in nature, and typically about 16 million on a computer, is reduced to a manageable 7000 unique colors (or, more accurately, color bins).

cravecolor color wheel chroma-lightness matrix



For the color wheel shown above, a bluish green hue has been selected. In the chroma-lightness matrix on the right, the row marked with a black dot has the same hues as those in the selected wheel sector. Chroma is from left (grey) to right (most saturated). Lightness is from dark at the bottom to light at the top.


One can navigate the color wheel in three ways:
  • click on a sector
  • rotate the mouse wheel while the cursor is over the wheel
  • drag the wheel knob

Furthermore, one can right-click on any color in the matrix to get supplemental information about that color in the following color spaces: RGB, HSL, CMY, CMYK, YCbCr, YUV, XYZ, CIE-Lab, CIE-Luv and Hunter-Lab.

Viewing Artists Paints on the Wheel


By clicking on the Color Wheel Options arrow, display options are revealed. Any or all paint brands can be shown, either by clicking on the checkboxes beside individual paint brand names, or by clicking on the All button. The current configuration is saved between sessions.

color wheel options

Paints are shown on the color wheel (with a dot), and on the chroma-lightness matrix (with an "x"). If there are one or more paint colors that match in chroma and hue the currently selected matrix chroma (marked by a red line beneath the matrix) then an additional display will appear, providing the following information:
  • a swatch of the paint color
  • the color's name
  • the brand name
  • the paint's pigments
  • transparency
  • lightfastness
  • a Colorist code indicating hue-chroma-lightness indices

Further Color Wheel Viewing Options


The brand paint colors to be displayed can be further specified as:
  • matching a selected color name
  • matching exactly the selected color name
  • having selected transparency values (T - transparent; SO/ST - semi-opaque/semi-transparent;
    O - opaque; ? - unknown)

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