What colors are this (black & blue) dress?

Is the dress blue and black or is it gold and white?

Ahhhh, the newest debate between social network addicts has again spilled into mainstream media, at home, and around the water cooler.  Apparently, quite a lot of people are seeing a white and gold dress.  So why do we perceive color so differently from other people?  Well, let’s first look at the science of how we see color.


The science of how our eyes view color

According to color deity supreme, Pantone…

“The human eye and brain together translate light into color. Light receptors within the eye transmit messages to the brain, which produces the familiar sensations of color.

Newton observed that color is not inherent in objects. Rather, the surface of an object reflects some colors and absorbs all the others. We perceive only the reflected colors.

Thus, red is not “in” an apple. The surface of the apple is reflecting the wavelengths we see as red and absorbing all the rest. An object appears white when it reflects all wavelengths and black when it absorbs them all.

Red, green and blue are the additive primary colors of the color spectrum. Combining balanced amounts of red, green and blue lights also produces pure white. By varying the amount of red, green and blue light, all of the colors in the visible spectrum can be produced.”

OK, so WTF does that even mean?

Basically, light, as we see it, is conducted of equal parts red, green, and blue.  When this light hits an object, that object absorbs or reflects these three colors in various combinations.  An object that absorbs all of these colors is black.  This light color scheme, known in the industry as RGB, had found its way to the mainstream via color television—only to be refined through modern digital mediums like our computer monitors, tablets, more sophisticated HD TVs, and other devices.

This red, blue, and green color scheme, commonly called RGB in the industry, is actually different from printed materials like brochures, poster, and flyers.  Anyone who has ever had the luxury to deal with a color printer will quickly tell you that we print in cyan, magenta, yellow, and black—or CMYK.

So back to the dress…

We see the colors we see because that is how how our brain is trained.  It tells us that that the sky is blue, or that the grass is green.  But sometimes our brains can be tricked.

blue and black dress gold and white dress 3 up

Here again is the dress again in three variations (from wired.com).  The left version is an altered white balance to white and gold, the middle image is the original, and the right version is altered to white balance black and blue.

Wired took it further by sampling color swatches from the picture of the dress.  Here is their results…



While we can tell that the dress is obviously black and blue, there are elements to trick some people’s brains into believing that the dress is gold and white.  This is mostly likely caused by the soft yellowish background or the bad lighting/camera flash (which again favors a yellow tint).

Did you know…

“About 8% of men and 1% of women have some form of color impairment. Most people with color deficiencies aren’t aware that the colors they perceive as identical appear different to other people. Most still perceive color, but certain colors are transmitted to the brain differently.

The most common impairment is red and green dichromatism which causes red and green to appear indistinguishable. Other impairments affect other color pairs. People with total color blindness are very rare.”

In conclusion


I think it is obvious that the dress is black & blue!

But what color do you see?



And for fun…


My favorite Power Rangers are the gold and white ones

My new favorite song by Kenny Wayne Shepard will now be “White on Gold”

Alice In Chains released and album in 2009 titled White Gives Way to Gold

Police officers will now be affectionately called “the boys in gold”

Outback Steakhouse is releasing a new dinner “The Gold & White Special”: a crappily cooked steak covered in blackening seasoning and bleu cheese.

Finally check out our new gold & white color scheme logo.




Meet Michael

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