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In this paper, an unsupervised segmentation method using clustering is presented for color images. We propose to use a neural network based approach to automatic feature selection to achieve adaptive segmentation of color images. With a self-organizing feature map (SOFM), multiple color features can be analyzed, and the useful feature sequence (feature vector) can then be determined. The encoded feature vector is used in the final segmentation using fuzzy clustering. The proposed method has been applied in segmenting different types of color images, and the experimental results show that it outperforms the classical clustering method. Our study shows that the feature encoding approach offers great promise in automating and optimizing the segmentation of color images.