In biology, pigment is any material resulting in color in plant or animal cells which is the result of selective absorption. Some biological material has so-called structural color, which is the result of selective reflection or iridescence, usually done with multilayer structures. Unlike structural color, pigment color is the same for all viewing angles. Many biological structures, such as skin, eyes, fur and hair contain pigments (such as melanin) in specialised cells called chromatophores. Butterfly wings typically contain structural color, although many of them contain pigment as well. Creatures that have deficient pigmentation are called albinos.
In the coloring of paint, ink, plastic, fabric and other material, a pigment is a dry colorant, usually an insoluble powder. There are both natural and synthetic pigments, both organic and inorganic ones. Pigments work by selectively absorbing some parts of the visible spectrum whilst reflecting others.
A distinction is usually made between a pigment, which is insoluble, and a dye, which is either a liquid, or is soluble. There is a well-defined dividing line between pigments and dyes: a pigment is not soluble in the vehicle (or matrix) while a dye is. From this follows that a certain colorant can be both a pigment and a dye depending on in which vehicle it is used. In some cases, a pigment will be made by precipitating a soluble dye with a metallic salt. The resulting pigment is called a "lake". Fugitive pigments are non-permanent pigments.
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