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Monday, 29 July 2013

Colour is just an illusion

So we go to great lengths to ensure the colour you want is the colour we print for you

Wikipedia, "A Colour Wheel or colour circle is an abstract illustrative organisation of colour hues around a circle that shows relationships between primary colourssecondary colourscomplementary colours,etc."

The perception of colour as it appears in print is dependant upon several variables including:

The colour, finish and absorbency of the substrate / paper
The colour and density of the ink
The mix of the various inks
The amount of ink applied
The viewing conditions in the context of the brightness and temperature of the ambient lighting
And so on ...

And last but by no means least there is the brain of the viewer, for it is the brain that interprets the light falling into the eyes to "create" the colour as we perceive it. Click for information on Pantone.

Here's an optical illusion which I guarantee will challenge your perception.  You may need to copy and paste this into Microsoft Paint, cut a piece of a) and move it over b) and vice versa. And be amazed.:

A and B are the same colour

And whilst we are having fun with colour, what colour is grass on the darkest of dark cloudy nights?  Green?  Nope. Under total darkness grass, like everything else for that matter, has no colour. For it to appear any shade of green it needs 3 variables; 

a) to have a surface which reflects light in such a way as to have the potential to appear "green" to a human eye.  Grass does. But that doesn't make it "green".
b) Light bright enough to reflect off the grass.
c) A human eye to receive and process the light - to "create" the green and describe it as such.

It would look a different colour to, err.. lets say,  a bee. Bees can see ultraviolet light which is more attractive to them than the bright colours humans see in flowers. And the common goldfish is the only animal that can see ultraviolet and infra red light.  So heaven knows what "green" might look like to them.  Information on the visible spectrum

This is all a bit like the old "If a tree falls in a forest and there's no people, animals, bugs, whatever, about, does it make a sound?".  The answer is no it doesn't.  All it does as it tumbles towards the ground is disturb the air.  It takes a creature with the ability to hear sound to interpret the air movement and "hear"  "that's a tree falling over".  For a deaf person it would make no sound. Its all about perception. Which is what makes colour matching so tricky.

How could I end without one of my favourite graphics of all time.

Transmitted light and Subtractive colour. Printing is all about Reflected light and Additive colour.

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