Metamorphosis: Transfiguration For Beginners

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Colour Change In Transfigurations

Chapter 4

There are two types of colour changing Transformations. The first is the instance where the change in colour is the fundamental goal of the spell’s caster. This is one of the most basic concepts and the first for students to master. The second and slightly more complicated form is when colour change is used to add another element to a larger goal of Transformation.

Definitions of Different Colours

A common debate between Muggles of different occupations is what constitutes an actual colour. Namely, they debate whether or not white and black can be considered colours. This stems from several different definitions of the word “colour,” the most common two defining colour as light or pigment.

For our purposes, it is safe to define colour as the pigment that can be seen by human eyes. It follows logically that black must be considered a colour since it consists of all other colours. Pure white, on the other hand, should be noted as the absence of colour. Muggle technology is sufficient only to create a resemblance of pure white, close enough to fool the naked eye. However, with wands and spells, witches and wizards have been able to alter an object’s molecular structure to the point of which it truly becomes white.

Colour Change in Itself

As with any other Transfiguration, the difficulty of changing colours increases with the complexity of the object in question, as well as the subtlety of the desired shade of colour. The first Transformation of colour generally taught to students is the Transformation of small amounts of ink. Since ink’s defining characteristic is in fact its colour, it is the perfect subject on which to practice. The first change attempted is to simply remove colour, which is why this should first be attempted on black ink.

The wand movement is a counter clockwise loop starting at the bottommost point of the cup or conatiner. The speed, size, and regularity of shape need not differ from object to object or colour to colour, but with practice will come naturally.

Start with a small cup of black ink, which you will attempt to change from black to white. Using the wand movement discussed above, utter the incantation “Absentia Pigmento.” To be able to completely whiten the ink on your first try is an incredible feat. More often, it takes several tries to cause any change to the ink, and varying shades of grey may first be achieved. Also, be aware that incorrectly focusing energy has been known to create some unique side effects, including the accidental colour change of nearby objects or people.

Once you have managed to sufficiently Transform a full measure of black ink, the focus should move to colour changing with the wizarding primary colours. Like Muggles, these include red, blue, and yellow; however, we will also consider gold and silver as primary colours, whereas Muggles disregard these two important additions. Because these colours are the most basic, creating the entire colour scale, they are the easiest to manipulate, at first. From here, you can progress to working with secondary colours. (A secondary colour is defined as a combination of any two primary colours.) The most difficult of colour Transfigurations deal with subtle shades of the same colour, such as darkening rose petals, or shading a painting.

Ink is still a good medium to practice on, but you should gradually progress to more solid objects. It is generally easier to start out with circular or rounded objects. Without sharp edges or angular corners, they are much easier to Transform completely. Coins, dishes, and simple cups are some examples.

As the subtlety and irregularity of shape increase, so must the focus. You must clearly picture the colour of the desired object in your mind. Colour changing spells grow in complexity, and are studied for many years. Make note that all human Transfigurations are incredibly difficult and dangerous, even human colour changing Transformations; they should, therefore, not be attempted until sometime in your sixth year of schooling, and with constant supervision.

Colour Change Added to an Exisiting Transformation

Adding a colour change to an object, in addition to the primary Transformation, requires an additional measure of energy and concentration equal to about one tenth of that required while performing the primary Transformation. The energy required, therefore, increases substantially with the increased difficulty of the Transformation in question. It is recommended that a student first master a Transformation without colour change before adding in the additional difficulty.

However, some Transfigurations already include a colour change because you are changing the inherent material in a way that must change its colour. This is seen as early on as when learning to Transfigure matches into needles. Because the match is mostly wood and the needle completely metal, the change from brown to silver is inevitable and necessary.

The other side includes Transfigurations that can voluntarily include a colour change, such as Transfiguring a hedgehog into a pincushion. The pincushion could become brownin this example; however, a young witch or wizard may choose to, instead, colour the pincushion a brighter shade in order to display ability, impress the examiner, or simply take a risk in class. When done well, these newly coloured objects can look very impressive.

Common Errors

As you attempt to Transform hues into subtly varying shades, you may inadvertently find yourself overshooting. Because you will be used to removing colour or changing colour, lightening and darkening shades will feel oddly focused. Several attempts are usually required before an adequate change can be performed.

The mental focus and energy required for Transfigurations are greater than many other branches of magic. While colour Charms last only a few hours and alter only appearance, colour Transformations alter an object’s molecular structure and, therefore, tend to last much longer, often requiring specific removal. This property has caused problems in the past, though it has been rare. For example, in one of the earliest Quidditch World Cups, nervous wizard Herman Prewett, a backup player for his team and never the brightest of men, accidentally Transfigured his robes to match the opposing team. Stumbling out onto the pitch a bit late cost him more than a fine in salary this time. While his team mates were busy discussing strategy, Prewett was ushered toward the other team. Only after the game was the blunder noticed, and resulted in Prewett’s removal from his team.

Another common error is Transforming the wrong object, which is a hazard of nearly all Transfigurations. Young witches and wizards find it difficult to channel their energy in a focused manner. Colour Transformations can be especially difficult because they deal with such fundamental and specific properties of the object in question. It may be helpful to clear the classroom or work space of any distracting images, furniture, or decorations.  A clear, blank setting will aid focus. Basic colour Transformations are much simpler once the basic concept of concentration is grasped.

Uses Outside of the Classroom

Colour Transformations can be useful when one requires a quick camouflage. Though more difficult to perform than colour Charms, the more stable nature of colour changing Transformations will aid an individual more completely. Skilled witches and wizards are able to change not only the colour of an object, but also where on an object the colour change falls. Thus, they are able to create complex pictures and designs, specifically camouflage.

Artists also use colour changing Transformations every day. Though mixing new paint will always give the best results, a witch or wizard is able to change individual batches just enough to give the colour a uniquely uniform base. This allows them to focus more on brush technique, creativity, and artistic vision without having to worry that specific hues don't match.

CASE STUDY: Gold Coins to Silver Coins are useful stepping-stones to practice colour changing Transformations on, as their rounded edges make it easier to Transform the colour completely. As a change from one primary colour to another primary colour (gold to silver), the wand movement will be kept basic and simple. Simply point your wand at the gold coin, and with one, very slight, downward swish, utter the incantation “Aurum Ad Argentum.” Avoid flamboyant flourishes or unnecessary slashes, as that intensity may accidently change the coin to an unintended colour. As always, concentration, energy, and focus are at the core of the Transformation. All other properties and rules you have learned thus far also apply.

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