Color hits the global media spotlight – let's clear this out


The perceived color of a black and blue OR white and gold colored dress was the talking point across all social media with color expert’s comments appearing on radio, TV, newspapers and on line. All over the world people could not agree on the colors they were seeing. Just some of the many hypotheses behind the different color perception were:

  • Poor photography

  • Memory colors

  • Observer metamerism

  • Simultaneous contrast

  • Variation in viewing and display conditions

  • Chromatic induction




From our own personal every day experience we know that cameras can lie and some of us also know that different colors when placed side by side the perceived colors will change. For sure the original photograph was not taken in the most perfect lighting conditions. Different types of monitors, screens and ambient light collectively will all contribute to our perceived color of the dress.

However this does not explain how two people looking at the same screen or print in the same conditions see colors so very differently.

 


Many people will be surprised to learn
of the magnitude of natural variation in color perception between ordinary people (excluding those with known color deficiencies). Even people in the design color industries who have been assessed and rated to have good/excellent color discrimination by existing industry color vision tests. The differences between observers will always be there.

The dress is an extreme example, but every day thousands of visual color approval/rejection decisions are made where two supply chain partners do not agree, leading to delays, added costs and color variation.

Just by altering the level of illumination from the original picture on the left will cause a significant shift in the color we perceive.



But when does white become blue, or blue become white?
It is generally considered blue tinted whites are whiter. Today to produce an aesthetically pleasing white, a blue dye is added to compensate for the slightly yellowish base of many textile materials.




The diagram shows that the percentage of blue dye added to achieve a pleasing brighten white is tiny. Adding too much and the color becomes light blue and is no longer perceived as white. At what point a white becomes a light blue or a blue becomes a white is highly dependent on the observer preference, the illumination and surrounding colors.

Once a color, including white, has been selected the only way to accurately specify, pass/fail and manage color in manufacture is through a digital process, where all the production processes and physical aspects that affect how a color is perceived are controlled.

Following five decades of digital color and technology advancements many supply chain participants now choose to work with digital color systems for transparency, efficiency and confidence of secure data with proactive technical color support. Avoiding this type of discussions.



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