If you explore colors at Crayola.com you are greeted by a display of pixilated colors, but the varying shades of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple only tell half the story. Today, there are over 120 Crayola crayon colors. This is a far cry from the eight colors Binney & Smith first presented in 1903.
Many of us agree that color seems to be one of life’s constants. Crayola might agree, arguing that their colorful crayons don’t change; they multiply.
In fact, after evaluating the evolution of Crayola colors between 1903 and 2010, it appears that Crayola crayon colors grow 2.56 percent each year. According to artist/scientist Stephen Von Worley’s blog, datapointed.net, this means Crayola crayon colors double every 28 years. Therefore, 120 colors today may mean 330 shades in 2050. To this, Worley says, “…Crayola’s gonna need a bigger box…”
This may bring up the question, might we discover more colors?
It may be possible to answer this question by tracing the Crayola crayon collection back to its roots. The original eight colors were known as hues. Hues are pure colors. If white is added to hues, a new family of color is born. These colors are known as tints. When gray is added to hues, the newly produced colors are known as tones. Adding black to hues creates shades. In calculating the amount of colors that derive from hues, tints, tones and shades we have 32 colors, which is only half of Crayola’s “Big Box.”
Looking at the chart posted on datapointed.net, Crayola Color Chart, 1903-2010, it is evident that Crayola colors go far beyond mixing white, gray, and black with pure colors. Crayola mixes colors with colors to create crayons like “Lavender Lollipop Violet,” “Mountain Meadow,” and “Red Orange.” They even have two shades titled, “Blue Green” and “Green Blue.” Ironically enough, these are two completely different crayons.
However, Crayola also discontinues crayon colors. Some of the recent retirees include, “magic mint” and “orange red.”
In recent years, Crayola has led the innovation of colors with collections like “Multicultural,” which includes skin tone shades that match many ethnicities. They also boast metallic, gel, and glitter collections.
Crayola is known to think outside the box when it comes to research and development. Therefore, it is hard to say they’ve found every color under the sun. This company is in the color creation business. We might have to wait until 2050 to see just how many more colors they create.
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