Quick: What Basic Color Is Heliotrope?

I don’t blog about my day job much. My dozen or so long-standing (and long-suffering) readers know I basically draw pictures for a living and most of them are probably further aware that I do this with the end goal of convincing you, the hungry but cautious-to-the-point-of-paranoid consumer, to part with your hard-won Federal Reserve Notes*. In other words, I design and illustrate advertising materials.

The occupation of creating successful print ads is a bit competitive (just a bit), making it necessary to continually maintain a surprisingly large and diverse set of skills. There are obvious examples such as being able to tell a strong tagline from a weak one or understanding the importance of proper branding; and there are the more nuanced things like realizing the color yellow is bad for food products because it often causes people think of urine and liver disease (however subliminally).

Color happens to be one of my strongest areas – or so I’m repeatedly told – which is why I usually wear all black clothing. If you’re an artist, that last sentence makes complete sense; trust me.

Anyway, I’d like to share a few photos from a freelance side-project I’m working on right now, because I think they go a long way towards demonstrating to the non-color-obsessed layman what it is that’s so rewarding about knowing the difference between mauve and lavender.

The impetus for this project is that back in the 60s and early 70s, my client traveled all over the world and, being a sentimental man, shot thousands of fascinating photographs for posterity. He decided 35mm slides would be the best method of archival but then fully neglected to take even the simplest precaution to protect his slides from the ravages of dust, fluorescent light and baby spit.

Forty years later… well… I believe the professional industry terminology for the particular condition in which his pictures ended up is “poopy”.

The problem with celluloid is that it’s a big wuss. It requires coddling. It likes it dry and it likes it cool. It doesn’t want a snack and it doesn’t want to go sunbathing. Hell, it doesn’t even really want to be crammed into your stupid slide projector, if we’re being completely candid.

All of this adds up to a nice little bit of extra change for me in a bad economy, because my client recently decided revisit his youth and is unable to do so without the color-correcting skills of yours truly. I’ll shut up now and show you the pix. Please realize that all I’ve done to these so far is correct the color; restoration is extra and still needs to be negotiated. If you're impressed and would like some photographs restored, please feel free to contact me.

*that one was just for you, Kzinti. 🙂

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About kirkstarr

I draw pictures for a living.
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19 Responses to Quick: What Basic Color Is Heliotrope?

  1. Lauri says:

    The Heliotrope flowers that I grow are a deep dark purple. I bought them just because I love the name! Oh, that was a rhetorical question! :)Nice job on the color correction! It looks like a very difficult process!

  2. That is amazing. Do you do the corrections on the computer? They look like different pictures after your corrections! What else will you do if you restore them? Do you put them on a different medium?

  3. Kirk says:

    "The Heliotrope flowers that I grow are a deep dark purple." I forgot you greenthumbs would intuitively know that one. I was gonna use "gridelin" but thought it might be going a tad too far into the esoteric. 😉

  4. Kirk says:

    "Do you do the corrections on the computer?"Yup. Adobe Photoshop. "What else will you do if you restore them?"Mostly just remove any evidence of damage. Fix scratches, remove digital noise artifacts, stuff like that. I've touched up peoples' skin and hair and clothing — removed blemishes, scars, bird poop… errant lipstick. I was even once asked to make a few unwanted items disappear from a table."Do you put them on a different medium?" The finals will be delivered in high-resolution digital format. They can then be printed or committed to celluloid again from there if the client so chooses.

  5. Thanks for taking the time to give me such specific answers. I find that very interesting!

  6. Lurkertype says:

    Purple! I knew that, but then I'm a girl.They still look a bit washed-out; I take it much of the color information is completely gone due to the dyes not lasting? Fixing that would be a very tedious process, I'm sure — more like painting.

  7. Kirk says:

    Quite right. I can saturate them more, but then the color build in the black areas will cause a serious loss of detail (in the chest feathers of the Military Macaws in the top photo, for example). So, yeah, at that point you're looking at a way more complicated job. This particular client sort of likes the vintage look of these repaired images, so we're golden. 🙂

  8. I-Luv-Eeyore says:

    Yes, yes. I like these very much. I know the difference between mauve and lavender…but I can't find the words to explain it.Color is a subject that my husband and I disagree on quite a bit. I think he's a bit color-blind while I've taken the color blind test at the optometrist and passed. He won't take it—at least not if I'm around.Do you do corrections/clean-up on a scanned in picture or on the negatives themselves? Very cool either way.

  9. Kirk says:

    "I've taken the color blind test at the optometrist and passed. He won't take it—at least not if I'm around." Oh! I have just the thing! :D"Do you do corrections/clean-up on a scanned in picture or on the negatives themselves?"I do it all digitally. I wouldn't know the first thing about repairing a negative or 35mm slide. If it can't be scanned, I'm afraid I can't help you. 😉

  10. Lurkertype says:

    That link doesn't work, Kirk.It's taken years, but I have trained Mr. LT to distinguish between colors and use the proper terms for them. We're both so proud when he busts out a 'mauve" or a "magenta". Still working on the teal-turquoise spectrum. And he still can't quite tell when two reds or pinks clash if they're really really close.

  11. Kirk says:

    "That link doesn't work, Kirk."Does now. 😛

  12. Kzinti says:

    Wise-cracker… LOL

  13. lizzy says:

    Color happens to be one of my strongest areas – or so I’m repeatedly told – which is why I usually wear all black clothing. If you’re an artist, that last sentence makes complete sense; trust me.

  14. I-Luv-Eeyore says:

    So, hey, this color thing has me curious. The walls of our bedroom are painted a chocolatey-brown. I've been wanting to incorporate some purple (of just about any shade..but I like the deeper purples vs the lilac and lavenders) into it. My husband and my mil say that purple and brown do not 'go' together. I am beyond frustrated with their belief that I'm wrong. If this news comes from a 'color' or 'artistic' type person I will be more willing to back down and let well enough alone. However, if the two colors do go together and do not clash…then I will continue to argue my purple-cause. 🙂

  15. Kirk says:

    Sorry I haven't replied until now; Marley and I had a big day at the vet yesterday.That's a frustrating argument indeed, especially if the two parties simply see color differently. BUT, you are not wrong. 🙂 You can certainly come up with a violet hue that will go nicely with the warmth of chocolate brown. It's just not as easy as other combinations.Of equal importance to the color temperature, considering your hubby's potential color-blindness, is color value. A decent contrast in value is important for color combinations if you want colorblind people to appreciate them at all.I know I've only confused you more. Allow me to think about how to best explain it and maybe whip up some palette examples to show you. I'll post it later this afternoon. We'll get you some purple in your bedroom yet! 😀

  16. Kirk says:

    "ha ha yes it does." Yup, I know you get it. 🙂 Great to see you, lizzy!

  17. Kirk says:

    So first I forget to hit the "reply" button and then I flake out and neglect to come back until today… sheesh… sorry about that. >_<Anyway, I've whipped up a quick swatch sample image and uploaded it here. I put the l-a-b color on each to help you if you compare with your paint store's site or whatever.The main thing to think about is not allowing the two colors to be so close in value that they vibrate when jutted up against one another. Value is the color's lightness or darkness completely separate of hue. If you took a purple and brown of the same value and turned them both to grayscale, you would be unable to see a difference in the two samples; they'd be the same shade of gray. Colors too close in value battle for your eye's attention and the result is a headache for you the viewer.So, you can start to see how just about any two hues can go together so long careful attention is paid to their values. With that in mind, have a look at the bottom half of the graphic I uploaded. It is a direct desaturation of the top half. The colors I used as examples will not induce migraines because they are far enough apart in grayscale value that they aren't in competition.Now, whether or not they actually look nice to you and your hubby is an entirely different matter, of course. Once you have a value contrast you like, then look at the temperature of the hues you're considering and fine tune your choice there.Did that help at all or did I just succeed in complicating everything?

  18. I-Luv-Eeyore says:

    Did that help at all or did I just succeed in complicating everything?That did help and I see what you are saying. It took several minutes and a lot of studying between the swatch and the explanation…but I do see what you are talking about. Thank you for your time and expertise on this subject. You did a lot better job than my mother-in-law and she is usually pretty good at explaining this kind of stuff to me. 🙂

  19. Kirk says:

    No problem at all. I do recommend you get a professional to help you if you go for anything too drastic. I am a web and print designer, after all. I'm sure there are a great many things I don't know about paint. 🙂

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