ICS Magazine

Color Repair Part II

October 12, 2004
Last month we discussed general principles of color repair and now we will examine principles of color in depth. Before we begin, it is helpful to know how the human eye perceives color.

In order to see color, you must have light. Color is actually light that is reflected back to our eyes from an object. When the electromagnetic energy of light strikes an object, the color of that object is reflected back to our eyes. For example, if light strikes a blue object, the color spectrum of yellow and red and everything in between is absorbed into the object, while the blue is reflected back to our eyes.

The full spectrum of color has its basis in only three colors. These three basic colors, known as the primary colors, cannot be created by mixing any other colors together. They form the basis for all of the colors you see.
Blue. The strongest color in the spectrum.
Red. The second strongest color in the spectrum.
Yellow. The weakest color in the spectrum

The primary colors can also be blended in equal parts to create a new class of color known as secondary colors.
Orange. Equal parts of red and yellow.
Violet. Equal parts of red and blue.
Green. Equal parts of blue and yellow.

Actually, the colors orange, violet, and green are the only possible results for the creation of secondary colors, since secondary colors are a result of mixing two primary colors in exact equal proportions.

Intermediate colors are similar to secondary colors in that they contain only two primary colors. However, they contain unequal amounts of each primary. Intermediate colors can technically be created by combining a secondary color with a primary color if that primary color is already part of the secondary color being mixed.
Reddish Orange - Red and yellow combination with a greater concentration of red.
Yellowish Orange - Yellow and red combination with a greater concentration of yellow.
Reddish Violet - Red and blue combination with a greater concentration of red.
Bluish Violet - Blue and red combination with a greater concentration of blue.
Bluish Green - Yellow and blue combination with a greater concentration of blue.
Yellowish Green - Yellow and blue combination with a greater concentration of yellow.

Tertiary colors are created by combining all three primary colors together in both equal and unequal amounts. Tertiary colors are the category of color most found in today's manufactured carpet. Gray and black are examples of tertiary colors that have large equal mixtures of red, yellow, and blue. Brown, rust, and gray are all examples of tertiary colors.

A complementary color is defined as a primary color not contained in any secondary color. For example, the complementary color to the secondary color of green is red, since red is the only primary color not contained in the secondary color green.

The complementary color to the secondary color of orange is blue, since blue is the only primary color not contained in the secondary color orange.

The complementary color to the secondary color of violet is yellow, since yellow is the only primary color not contained in the secondary color violet.

A good understanding of complementary colors is the first step in becoming proficient at finding what I call the "missing color." So far, we have learned that most all carpet colors contain some mix of the three primary colors. Even when you see a blue carpet color, it is likely that there is a very small percentage of yellow and red mixed with a larger percentage of blue to create the blue color represented on the carpet. So if we know that there are three primary colors contained in most carpet colors, we also know that we can recreate that color (or close to it) by mixing the three primary colors in the proper percentages.

This concept is very helpful when you are trying to discern what color to apply to a lighter discoloration on the carpet surface. For example, blue is opposite orange, so a small amount of blue can tone down a bright-orange spot, or a larger amount of blue can change the spot to brown, gray or many other colors in between.

Red is opposite green. A small amount of red can tone down a bright green spot, or a larger amount of red can change the spot to brown, gray or many other colors in between.

Yellow is opposite violet. A small amount of yellow can tone down a bright violet spot, or a larger amount of yellow can change the spot to light brown, light gray or many other colors in between.

Keep in mind that these examples are only a few of literally thousands of color possibilities that can result from mixing the three primary colors in different percentages of color concentrations.

Once you fully understand how the three primary colors interact with each other, you can find the complementary color and use it as the primary change agent for adjusting the carpet back to its original color.

Next time, we will look at how to prepare a stain or discoloration for the application of dyes to the carpet fiber.