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Digital Anarchy Color Theory Pro 1.5

Color scheme application and plugin suite By Dave Nagel
Since its debut back in March 2001, Color Theory has become a critical tool in my graphics work. For those who don't know, Color Theory is a stand-alone application and plugin set for generating harmonious color schemes for graphics and video and working with color in general. Whether your background includes training in color theory or not, this suite will save you time and help you to produce color schemes with a precision that simply isn't available anywhere else.

Just in the last week, Color Theory has undergone a slight name retooling, major price restructuring, version update and change of publisher. The original developer, Theory LLC, is continuing to develop the product in conjunction with Digital Anarchy, maker of several tools for Adobe After Effects and high-end Discreet systems. Digital Anarchy now takes over publishing, marketing and distribution of the product. The new 1.5 version under the Digital Anarchy badge does not change a whole lot, though it does fix some small bugs, particularly with the Photoshop plugin, which had some interface problems with Photoshop 7. It also becomes available in two new versions. Previously Color Theory was available in standard and DV versions, with the DV version including a set of plugins for Adobe After Effects. Now it's available in standard and Pro versions, and the differences are much more stark.

In its standard configuration, Color Theory includes only the main application and does not allow users to import images. Rather, your only option is to choose colors from the program's RYB color wheel and build color schemes from there. The Pro version allows for the import of images into the main application and also includes plugins for Adobe Photoshop and After Effects. It also now includes a free plugin for After Effects called Gradient!, which is a 16-bit, six-color gradient filter.

The biggest change since version 1.2 is the new pricing. The standard version now sells for $24.95 (previously $99). The Pro version now sells for $99 (previously $199) through this month, after which point it will go for $129. Today we'll be looking at the Pro version.

Before I go any further, I should note that, as with previous releases, the new version is available only for Macintosh (Mac OS X and Mac OS 9). This is, in short, a Mac-centric application developed by a Mac-centric company. In fact, Color Theory is so Mac-oriented that Carbonized versions of the Photoshop and After Effects plugins were available even before OS X versions of those applications were out. Long before.

Color Theory is also user-oriented in terms of both functionality and customer relations. I'll get to the functionality in a bit. But I do want to mention that, since its 1.0 release, all updates of Color Theory have been completely free, including the latest, even though it's now being published by a different company. That's the kind of dedication to customers that you don't see too often, and it certainly inspires confidence from a customer perspective.

The core application
Color Theory Pro is a suite of plugins and a core application for generating harmonious color schemes based on color selection from an image or a color wheel. The color wheel in Color Theory is a traditional RYB wheel, rather than the standard RGB wheel found in other graphics applications and utilities.

In the core application, you can select your input colors from the color wheel, and then select a formula for creating colors that go along with the color or colors you've selected.

Once you've selected a formula, the program will generate the precise color values required to make a harmonious set. (These formulas are based on the work of Bauhaus professor Johannes Itten.) The values are displayed as points on the color wheel and as color swatches in the main viewer window.

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