Color Theory Game

A quick color theory lesson from The Wingless. When you mix colors, you are at all times adding more light or darkness (Sam Hampton-Smith has a great color theory primer you can find here). Additive colors become brighter: red and blue make purple, yellow and red make orange, all of these ultimately becoming white. Mixing Subtractive colors makes them darker. Yellow and magenta make red. Yellow and cyan make green; enough mixtures over time becoming black.

Now – for whatever ungodly reason, I enjoyed this concept so much that I made a little color… Tool? Visualizer? Appli- this Objet D’art was a legitimate engineering challenge because I had to take color – an intuitive affair – and translate it into mathematics, something that requires a fair bit of mouth-breathing from me.

Compounding those troubles was the fact that Flash isn’t that great at interpreting colors this way. It’s fine with colors in the abstract, but once you add or subtract past a certain point, it starts to approximate – and the results are less than ideal. I’m not sure if I would ever revive this project as a new The Wingless venture, but modern technologies would certainly make the results silkier.

I have but two regrets with this early TheWingless project. The first, my apologies for the Mystery Meat Navigation™, defined as not knowing what a button does until you roll over it – a rather breathtaking faux-pas in User Experience Design circles (fortunately, my UX design skills got a lot better). My second regret is that Flash 5 (which I was using at the time) isn’t great at interpreting Subtractive colors in this way. But at the end of the day, it’s butterflies changing colors… truly, how demanding can the Auteur be?


  • Use the silver tab on the bottom left to start
  • -upper buttons add ADDITIVE color to a butterfly
  • -lower buttons add SUBTRACTIVE color to a butterfly
  • -Mouse over a butterfly to see its color values
  • -Roll over the lower center tabs for options
  • "Parent" butterflies inherit colors from their "Grandparents". The "Child" inherits the color values of the entire lineage.


  • 2005 . Millennial Age . Chicago
  • Photoshop & Actionscript on Flash