Map of named colors

In this post I present a visualization of all named colors, ranging from the more common to the more obscure, including green, blue, yellow, orchid, lavender, turquoise, acquamarine, azure, etc. etc.

From various sources [1] I downloaded around 2600 such names, I merged the different lists, and slightly edited the entries to remove duplicates and to make the collection more consistent. Then I trained a SOM (Kohonen map) [2] with 6000 units, using the open source toolbox [3] for Matlab. Finally I exported the results with some custom scripts I wrote. This last part was done similarly to the visualization of languages described in my previous post. Otherwise the data was much more reasonable this time than in the previous post: 2600 data points, 3 features (red, green, and blue values) and no missing entries.

The first plot shows the trained SOM map with each hexagonal unit being colored according to its location in the three-dimensional RGB space. The other three maps show only the red, green, and blue values of the units, respectively.

exp_som.png (~6 MB)
Figure 1. SOM map of named colors.

The second plot contains the actual names of the colors and the corresponding hexadecimal RGB values. The goal was to place similar colors near each other as much as possible.

exp_som_text_scale.png (~12 MB)
exp_som_text.svg (~3 MB) (NEW: svg format)
Figure 2. Map with color names.


Name That Color project (and references therein) by
Chirag Mehta.
Wikipedia: List of colors.

Color Space Dimensionality Reduction project by Aubrey Jaffer and references therein. This project includes two dimensional maps of colors created using different techniques.

In this project SOM is used to visualize colors, but only a handful of colors are shown.

Some of the colors in the final list I used seem to have been submitted by users at the Colourlovers website.

[2] Scholarpedia:

[3] SOM Toolbox:


#1 keysle on 08.23.13 at 6:20 pm

Not understanding how the colors chose their location .
Otherwise cool data analysis

#2 Julie on 08.24.13 at 12:38 am

I would love a printable zoomed in version of your color chart to hang up at work. We work with a bunch of different fabrics, old and new, from varying suppliers, and end up having to name most of them ourselves. We’ve started running out of creative names (and some people really don’t know their turquoise from their teal). Having a chart to hold the fabric up to and say “yeah, that’s cornflower blue” would be awesome.

#3 Ben on 08.24.13 at 4:14 am

Very cool. I’m wondering how uniform the distribution of color names is throughout the space. Just panning around, it looks pretty close.

#4 lkozma on 08.24.13 at 8:55 am

I don’t plan to make a poster out of it, but you can download the png file and print it if you wish – it is quite large though, and in print the colors might look differently than on screen.

Here is a brief eplanation of how the colors are laid out:

@Ben: on the map the color names are quite uniformly spaced, but the map itself does not necessarily uniformly represent the whole color space – if in some part of the color space the named colors are more dense, then a larger part of the map is allocated to that region compared to a more sparse region.

#5 lkozma on 08.24.13 at 12:39 pm

@Julie: I added the image in resolution-independent SVG format. Should be more useful for printing.

#6 Noah on 10.20.13 at 9:51 pm

your 3MB SVG link is broken! Could you fix it pretty please?

Very cool work!


#7 lkozma on 10.20.13 at 10:57 pm

@Noah: should work now.

#8 Ismaiel on 10.21.13 at 1:01 pm

Thank you so much for doing this! I’ve stumbled upon this on Tumblr. It is the most useful thing I’ve ever seen (based on colors). Now whe mixing colors for friend I can exactly show them what they will get/they can show me what they want.

#9 Noah on 11.15.13 at 9:13 pm

Yeah, that svg link still fails, sorry to trouble you!

#10 lkozma on 11.18.13 at 12:03 am

Noah: thanks, fixed it again, hopefully the current link is more stable.

#11 DoctorMan12 on 01.06.15 at 4:40 am

I think you are forgetting the famous “#272D70″ otherwise known as “Tardis Blue”.

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