Is RED actually over fifty percent of the USA flag surface area ( as white = .333 red area ) ?

Discussion in 'US Flag Specs and Design' started by trader, Jul 8, 2009.

  1. trader

    trader New Member

    Please tell me what are the exact percentage numbers of the colors on the USA flag.

    I am curious to find out in particular if the primary color of RED is actually just over fifty percent of the total surface area of the USA flag, as the color white is not a color but a composition of primary colors where one third of white is the primary color red. One third of white is also the primary color of blue.

    I believe that if one considers the small area of the white stars area as white and not blue, then the USA flag is actually just over fifty percent RED, and maybe even about 51 percent. Many times people simply ignor the area of the white stars since it is difficult to calculate the surface area of the stars.
     
  2. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Please tell me what are the exact percentage numbers of the colors on the USA flag.

    This should not be all that hard to calculate. The exact proportions of the flag are defined by Executive Order 10834, which is available in at several places on the web, including here:

    Executive Order 10834

    Of course, those definitions apply only to flags procured by the executive branch of the government. Other flags vary considerably as to the length of the union, the size of the stars, and the overall proportions.

    the color white is not a color but a composition of primary colors where one third of white is the primary color red. One third of white is also the primary color of blue.

    This is not correct, at least when you are talking about dyes (which is assume you are, since we're dealing with a flag!). In dye or pigment, white is the *absence* of color, not a combination of colors.

    it is difficult to calculate the surface area of the stars.

    Why would it be difficult? The Executive Order defines the diameter of the stars, and all it should take is a little geometry.

    Peter Ansoff
     
  3. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    The red comprises 41.5 percent of the area of a 1 x 1.9 flag, while the white, including stars (but not the heading) is approximately 40.9 percent of the area, so the red and white take up about the same, though the red is slightly ahead.
    Nick
     
  4. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

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    QUOTE : "The red comprises 41.5 percent of the area of a 1 x 1.9 flag, while the white, including stars (but not the heading) is approximately 40.9 percent of the area, so the red and white take up about the same, though the red is slightly ahead. Nick"

    Which leaves my favorite color, BLUE, with a mere 17.6% of the entire surface area of a G-Spec, 1:1.9 ratio American Flag !!! :(


    I know that SOMEBODY (probably more than just one "somebody" over the next few years) is going to be thinking about asking the following question. Maybe they'll decide to NOT ask it for fear of looking a little silly... :eek:

    BUT... THAT has NEVER stopped me from asking a question !

    AHEM.....


    Do those color percentages (Red = 41.5%, White = 40.9%, and Blue = 17.6%) hold "true" for BOTH sides of the Flag ??? :D


    Robin Hickman
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  5. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    My percentages were based on the flag specifications. A printed flag could be made fairly close to those specs, but sewn flags, of course, would have seams wherever fabric of one color was sewn to fabric of another color. The visible fabric on the front of the seam may be different from the color of fabric on the back of the seam, thus leading to slight differences in the % of one color seen on the front vs the % of color seen on the back. This discrepancy would decrease as the flag got larger. However, the flag would not have to be very large at all before someone would say "who cares?"
    Nick
     
  6. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

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    Well..... you know how it is. I just HAD to ask !!! :D

    As for the seams, I hadn't really given it much thought. I can see how there might be a "slight" difference between the "front" and the "back" of the Flag. I would assume that it would all sort of "average" out though. Another "variable" might be the width of the top (short) and bottom (long) red stripes and how they are "hemmed".

    Peter is "right" as far as the "color" of white being the absence of "color". The original poster, "Trader", might have been thinking in terms of "LIGHT", where white light is the combination of the three primary colors of "light", Red, Green, and Blue.

    Sometimes it's the "subject" of the question that is fascinating, and sometimes it's "how" the question is asked. With "Traders" question, it's definitely the "subject". That, and wondering what kind of "conversation" prompted that kind of question.

    Which brings me to asking a coup[le of questions of my own.

    #1. Trader, "why" do you need to know the percentages of the Flag's colors? :confused:

    #2. Nick, did you "do the math" to figure out the percentages of the Flag's colors, or did somebody else go through the whole process years ago ??? :confused:


    Just Wondering..... :cool:


    Robin Hickman
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  7. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    I did the math myself, but I cheated a little regarding the area of the stars. I assumed that the area of the star itself is half of the area of the circle that defines the "diameter" of the star. But since the exact area of the stars is only between 3.5 to 4 percent of the area of the entire flag, the inaccuracy does not affect the calculation too much.

    Nick
     
  8. trader

    trader New Member

    Thank you for all the feedback, and significant information.

    I don't understand why the "primary colors of light" do not apply to the flag, for example from an observer who would be observing the flag from the distance.

    It seems that the argument given above that the "primary colors of light" do not apply to the flag, is based on the molecular compostion of the color building blocks of the flag.

    But it seems to me that the "primary colors of light" do apply to the distant observer, and that the total actual percentage of the color RED on the executive flag is over 54 percent. In general the distant observer can not tell exactly what the source of the flag is, such as cloth, LCD, CRT, or people holding up color cards.
     
  9. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    The primary colors of light refer to a situation when you are focusing colored beams of light on a surface. When you combine three beams of light using the colors red, green, and blue: COLOR MIXING - ADDITIVE
    you get white light, as their intensity is addative. This is just the opposite of the way pigments work.

    The primary colors of pigment are subtractive. When you combine cyan (blue) magenta (red) and yellow (yellow!) you get black.

    In terms of colors of the flag I belive the "colors" of red, white, and blue each stand alone. If you tried to define the white as "all colors" then the wavelengths that represent "old glory red" and "old glory blue" consist of such narrow bands of the spectrum of visible light that they are insignficant when talking about what % of the flag is red or blue.
    Nick
     
  10. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    I don't understand why the "primary colors of light" do not apply to the flag, for example from an observer who would be observing the flag from the distance.

    To paraphrase Nick's explanation in a slightly different way: The observer sees the flag because light from the sun (or a floodlight, or whatever) is reflected off the flag into his/her eyes. The light source is white, and contains all wavelengths in the visible spectrum. The red parts look red because they absorb all wavelengths except those that the eye interprets as red. The "redness" is caused by the composition of the fabric, not the light.

    The white areas of the flag look that way because they reflect *all* wavelengths, including, among many others, the particular shades of red and blue that are also reflected by the other parts of the flag. However, the red and blue are not "in" the white areas of the flag -- they're part of the overall visible spectrum coming from the source. As Nick pointed out, they are rather small parts of the overall spectrum.

    An image of a flag displayed on a computer screen is a slightly different story. In that case, the screen itself is the light source, and the wavelengths corresponding to the red and blue parts of the flag image are, in a sense, "in" the flag. However, I'm not sure I see why it matters. The eye still interprets the white areas as white, regardless of the underlying physics.

    Peter Ansoff
     
  11. trader

    trader New Member

    Is it correct to say that ( approximately ) 55.133 total percent of the red is reflected back from the USA executive flag, but of this 55.133 quantity only 41.5 percent quantity is visible to the eye as the color red and the other 13.633 is hidden and mixed with other colors that together appear white to the eye ? Is this statement another way to correctly state what you said above or am I still missing something very important ?
     
  12. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Is it correct to say that ( approximately ) 55.133 total percent of the red is reflected back from the USA executive flag, but of this 55.133 quantity only 41.5 percent quantity is visible to the eye as the color red and the other 13.633 is hidden and mixed with other colors that together appear white to the eye ?

    No, it's not correct. I'll try to explain why -- I'm definitely not an expert in optical physics, and someone who is may be able to explain it better. Anyway . . .

    There are around 300 (I think) wavelengths in the visible light spectrum that the eye can perceive as distinct colors. Three of those wavelengths are designated as "pure" red, blue and green. This is because the human eye contains three different types of light receptors, each of which is sensitive to one of those three particular wavelengths. If a light beam of light happens to contain one of those three wavelengths (red, for example), only the red receptors are stimulated.

    In the real word, of course, most of the light that hits our eyes is not one of those three particular wavelengths. In those cases, more than one set of receptors is stimulated. For example, yellow light will stimulate both the red and the green receptors. The degree of stimulation of each set will depend on the "mix" of the color -- if the particular wavelength of the yellow is more toward the green side of the spectrum, the green receptors will be stimulated more than the red receptors. (The brain, of course, interprets this as the appropriate shade of yellow.) If the light is white, all three sets will be equally stimulated.

    The point is that when you try to add the red reflected from the red stripes of the flag, and the red component of the white, you are mixing apples and oranges, so to speak. In the first case, you're talking about the particular wavelength of light that is reflected by the stripes, and in the other about the proportion of the white light that stimulates the red receptors in the eye. The red reflected from the red stripes is not "pure" red -- it actually has a substantial blue component, and looks almost purple under some conditions. (The red in the Canadian flag, for example, is closer to the "pure" red). If you really want to analyze the proportions of the three primary color wavelengths that are reflected from the flag under white light, you can do that, but the problem is considerably more complex.

    Once again, I really don't see the point of all this. When you make a flag, you start with white fabric and dye the appropriate sections in their respective colors. The quantity of dye (or of dyed cloth, if it's a sewn flag), is driven by the proportion of the surface area that reflects each of the three colors. The physics of how the eye perceives color is a separate issue.

    Peter Ansoff
     
  13. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

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    Why, Yes, now that you've asked me, I actually DO happen to think that this thread should be "closed" !!! :eek:

    Robin Hickman :cool:
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