He Said/She Said: The Great Purple Controversy

So, I know it’s hard to believe, but sometimes Deke and I don’t agree. I realize that I’m revealing the discordant underbelly of dekeDom, but I thought you should know. And I thought you should have the opportunity to hear both sides and align with me. So here’s the first of our most recent debates, surrounding the definition of the color “purple.”

As you know, or you should know if you’re a true fan, the lessons in Deke’s One-on-One books each have a different color scheme, rotating between four colors throughout the book, as follows:

One-on-One colors

The Photoshop CS3 book was created in InDesign CS2, and I was trying to bring the lessons up to InDesign CS3-compliance in case we ever needed them for a revision, doing all the tedious formatting drudgery so that Deke’s genius mind and delicate fingers could concentrate on his brilliant content. I needed a purple chapter from the InDesign CS3 book (our current template gold standard), and called Deke to see if he could post if for me. The conversation went something like this.

Colleen: I need a pristine purple chapter from the InDesign book, can you post one for me.

Deke: Purple, you mean like Lesson 4?

Colleen: No, that’s magenta, I mean purple, like Lesson 3.

Deke: Lesson 3 is violet.

Colleen: Yes, violet, as in “purple.”

Thus ensued a debate. You could hear the clicking keyboards as Wikipedia was frantically accessed from two different time zones, as we each tried to prove our case for which one of the red-blue chapters would really be called “purple.” (We eventually realized we agreed on which one was magenta and which one was violet, but purple was still under contention.) No, Deke was not allowed to syllogistically refer to his much lauded color wheel from the Photoshop book (Lesson 3, a purple one as it turns out), so don’t you try it either.

It would seem that we were at an impasse. Deke was clearly aligned with the Barney-the-Dinosaur contingent. (Barney, the purple dinosaur, is magenta.) I seem to have the standard box of Crayola crayons (a much more trusted source, you have to agree) on my side. Any of you denizens of dekeOpolis have a thought or an example that proves one of us (me) right? The debates (to be revealed here regularly) only get more cutthroat from here.

Maybe I can speak to Deke in a language he’ll understand, InDesign is magenta, InCopy is purple.

Next entry:As You Wish…

Previous entry:News Flash: B/C No Longer Suckz


  • Why you dissing Barney?

    InDesign is purple and InCopy is violet.

    And besides, Crayola is on MY side. Somebody go out and buy a box!

  • Crayolas

    Good idea a box of Crayolas should settle the debate, that is if the crayons are labeled like they used to be. Otherwise just let Colleen win, it will be easier that way.



  • A Tale of Deke, the Coloradan, and Colleen, Queen of the Purple

    at the risk of meeting Deke’s ire, I rise to your defense, Colleen…...

    A Tale of Deke, the Coloradan, and Colleen, Queen of the Purple Coast.

    Know, oh Paduans, that between the time of Hertz, the hated monster of crushed transportation hopes, and the rise of recorded history, there was an age undreamed of…..

    When shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like violet mantles beneath the stars, from the northern Rockies strode a Coloradan, Deke, a great color wheel in hand – an artist, a graphic wizard, a dreamer with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth to tread the jeweled thrones of California and Nevada under his feet in stunning wonderment and characteristic fashion, but mistakenly claiming the supremacy of “Barmey, the dinosaur”.

    Out of the West came the queen of Editorians, Colleen, proclaiming the obvious supremacy of purpleness and weaving her insidious weapons of the ancient “Crayola”.

    Gasping black curses of “purple!?!” in panting fury, Deke sank beneath her furious onslaught. Valiant but useless.

    exploring the infinite worlds of the imagination,

    resistance is futile,


    Thomas Benner


    p.s. My sincere apologies to fellow Robert E. Howard and Conan fans

  • Damn it

    I was completely ready to go with Colleen until I found this link:

    If you go by this trusted resource (which I believe both sides are willing to do) then you are both correct.

    I did a bit more research and decided that the difference of opinion may be the result of what colors were in our Crayola box when we were in grade school. Here’s some dates relating to when various Crayola colors were available: http://www.crayola.com/colorcensus/history/chronology.cfm

    In any case I encourage Colleen to give Deke a hard time. I think it will help keep Deke in the razor-witty-sarcastic (what ever you call it) form that makes him who he is.


    Head Camp Counselor
    Camp Photoshop


  • If you say so, \“Boss\”

    Box procured. Results displayed here for all to see. In related news: She 1, He 0.

  • AKA purple

    Just for the record, CW, your purported color name is in parentheses.

    Meanwhile, I’m trying to post a dekePod here. There are more important things than purple you know.

    (Don’t even make me go indigo on you. I know how to Roy G Biv old-school!)

  • The parentheses make me even more victorious

    Because as you can see in my original 100% authentic transcript, I agreed that it was violet because violet is purple. Crayolans rule, you said so yourself.

    Of course, in podcastery, you are the true king. So I’ll revel quietly over here in my lesser glory while you get that baby launched.

  • Roses are red, violet’s not blue, you are each right about 1 hue

    I’m a painter & to my eye, “purple” falls somewhere between the two contended colors.  Violet is violet, magenta is magenta, but purple is, so to speak, their love child.  Doesn’t that inspire you two to kiss & make up, in an appropriately chaste manner?

    It might interest you to know that in garden catalogs, the color formerly known as violet is shamelessly renamed “blue”—true blue being a rare color in flowers, therefore coveted, therefore effective in catalog copy, resulting in massive hue shift.  Sort of like grade inflation but with colors. 

  • The color controversy

    ah, the ongoing debate /argument about color naming conventions.
    Teaching college level art, design, painting and digital imaging courses, I have found that it is useful to read “The Interaction of Color” by Josef Albers (among others). This book, originally published in 1963, as a box set, by the Yale University Press, consisted of 150 hand screened plates accompanied by text/exercises referencing the color plates. I have been fortunate enough to actually look through one of these first editions. It was a visual feast of color interactions and retina tweaking. The revised and expanded edition is available (for the time being) here:


    More of the color plates from the original would have been nice, but it’s still full of great ideas/thoughts and exercises about color.

    For example, Chapter 1, Page three: “If one says ‘Red’ (the name of a color,or “purple or violet’) and there are 50 people listening, it can be expected that there will be 50 reds in their minds. And one can be sure that all these reds will be very different.”

    He removes color wheels and pigment mixing from the equation (except that the screen printed plates used something, eh?). His point here is that vocabulary is inadequate for color nomenclature. Some people call it purple, some call it violet. It is more necessary to understand the way color interacts that it is to try to name it. You are both correct. In a verbally limiting, language hobbled way. Language is not seeing.

  • Collen is right (in this case)

    I favor Colleen’s color names but as with most debates over perceptual descriptions, it’s all relative. I wouldn’t object to Deke’s naming convention had not yours been side-by-side. Yours seems more accurate to the broader spectrum. Lessson 3’s Violet is more Purple and Lesson 4’s Purple is more Magenta. But Cobalt!? That’s much deeper and saturated. Sapphire is fine though I’d say Cerulean is more apt. smile

    FWIW: My color theory textbook was Johannes Itten’s “Elements of Color.”

  • In defense of Cobalt

    I’m strictly commenting on hue. (Clearly, classic cobalt is darker and far more saturated.) Where labeling colors is concerned, it has long struck me that we’re better off relegating labels to the core hue, and then tossing in adjectives like “drab” and “dark” to roughly define saturation and luminance.

    Otherwise, we’re throwing darts at a 3D color space.

    Insofar as the raging violet vs. purple debate is concerned (where I am quite obviously losing grin, I have three comments:

    1) The Crayola violet = purple thing is right out. I can’t get behind that.

    2) I think we can agree (do we?) that purple is the redder of the two colors and violet is more blue. If that’s acceptable, then I’ll acquiesce and scuttle back into my hole.

    3) We can’t call a color that’s composed of 100% magenta and 35% cyan (as the 4th color is) magenta. Magenta is an industry term, which takes precedent over crayons.

    Thanks for all the color book recommendations. I’m interested in checking them out (tho whether I get around to it is another matter).

    Thankfully, one thing’s for sure: If you mix purple and violet, you get yellow. Any school girl knows that.

  • You know Telekom!??

    Hey, stop, InDesign can’t be magenta o.O

    You know Telekom!? This company has a trademark on his color and guess what? It’s magenta! You can read this on the german wikipedia article for magenta.

    And just look into your bubble jet printer - there you can find magenta, too. wink

    I think InDesign is purpur and InCopy violett ^^

  • Finally someone agrees w/ me

    Based on this one comment in my favor, CW has admitted to her crimes and agreed to join the Purple Re-education Program, which is a kind of four-year work camp in which she has to wear violet cover-alls.

  • Well, I’ve never been sure

    Well, I’ve never been sure about the word “magenta” (I really hate trying to figure out which colour is which past the basic colours), but I’ve always seen colour 3 above to be “purple”. Whenever I think back to paints when I was in school (before they started making us mix colours like purple ourselves that is) number 3 is always what they would call purple. To get colour 4 we’d have to mix in some red (which I would usually fail at).

    Also, when searching “purple” on google images, the majority of images in the first few pages are closer in colour to lesson 3’s colour.

    But, then again violet the colour is (according to wiki) named after violets (the purple variety I imagine), which are also very close in colour to lesson 3: http://www.dkimages.com/discover/previews/839/20055240.JPG

    So I guess I would have to conclude that purple can be different shades, but violet should always be close to lesson 3’s colour.

    This is precisely why I hate colour names :D

  • i think coleen is right

    after thinking about it a little more, i’m editing my comment: if red, green, and blue are at 0/360, 120, and 240 degrees respectively, then magenta (an equal mix of red and blue, based on the idea that cmyk primaries are absorbing an rgb primary, green here, and reflecting back equal amounts of light from the other two) would be at 300 degrees. and, looking at the image in photoshop, the color coleen calls magenta is at 317 degrees, close enough to magenta, but a little bit on the red side. however, given that even deke’s own color wheel defines purple as more blue than magenta, there is no way to call a color purple if it is more red than magenta.

    (granted my measurement of 317 is device dependent, but i think the point still stands)

  • when I was in school (before

    when I was in school (before they started making us mix colours like purple ourselves that is) number 3 is always what they would call purple. To get colour 4 we’d have to mix in some red (which I would usually fail at). regards,

  • Purple Nurples

    can hurt. And when some cheeky wee child grabs yer nurple and turns it purple, you know that’s real, man. Like, totally.

    Magenta, on the other hand, is not real. It’s one o’them fake extra-spectral colours. It has no wavelength.

    I know this because I just read it on the internets, and therefore it is absolute in it’s truth. http://www.biotele.com/magenta.html

    Therefore, Colleen is correct, and she should assert her supreme authority by giving Deke a purple nurple. It’s only fair.



  • Who knew

    Good article, that one you linked.


  • Okay, I like this

    Gimme the nurple. (I’m all for that.) But the very argument suggests that there’s an infinite gap in the red/violet chasm. After all, our visual capacity begins at red and ends at violet, so how is it that our shared visual cortex wraps around and completes the circle?

    By way of an averaging (as suggested by the link)? Not likely.

    A circle is completed by making a u-turn. Magenta exists b/c our minds rounded the loupe, minded the gap, and made the leap. There is no point of return, so we set it in reverse and screeched back to where we were. Magenta is there b/c we need it to make the jump.

    And our vision of the world is the only one that matters. By simple virtue of the fact that no other vision of the world exists. (So far as we know.) By which I mean, magenta exists b/c we do.

  • It’s pink, therefore I am?

    The mind is a venerable thing to paste.

    /me wishes she’d paid more attention in physics class hmmm

  • Yeah, ya see

    In that one comment, I blew Colleen away. She’s smoke, I tell ya!

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