Saturday, October 27, 2007

Color Science

Don't get me wrong, I really love what I do for a living, but there is a new field that if it had been available when I was in college I might have gone for.

I might have majored in Color Science.

You may be thinking, "What, you didn't get enough coloring books as a child?" and you would be wrong. Well, umm. Actually, you might be right, but that isn't the point.

Think of a 1970s bathroom and there is a certain orange that comes to mind.

The green of the Aston Martin this year is an amazing triumph of Color Scientists., although you really have to see it in person. One more hint of yellow and it would be tacky. One more hint of green and it would be boring. A little lighter and it would hurt your eyes. A little darker and it wouldn’t contrast with the bright work. It is amazing.

The new colors in Vista are good. In many ways, Web 2.0 sites can most easily be identified by their color choices, although that doesn't always hold up.

And that 1970's orange? Make it a little brighter and it's back in style.

I think my next personal project will be to write a side bar application where you can click on a color on the screen and the program will show tints and hues and suggest color combinations for the new scRGB. The math for this isn’t trivial, but it would be so beautiful. When not in use I think I would just have it step through the spectrum.

If you think I’m exaggerating the math, here is a blurb from a color person’s blog:

"For sRGB, the 1/2 brightness gray image will result in a numerical value of around 186, not the midpoint value of 128. This is based on an sRGB gamma of approximately 2.2. (The actual gamma calculation for the sRGB color profile is a little more complex, but we can use a value of 2.2 for an approximation for our
purposes.) This means that the sRGB profile uses 186 steps to represent the lower half of the luminance spectrum, and only 69 steps (255-186) to represent the upper half of the luminance spectrum. sRGB defines a non-linear luminance curve to provide more detailed information in the darker or shadow areas at the expense of the brighter or highlight areas. Since we're far more likely to see visual differences between each of the 255 total luminance steps, this non-linear representations significantly reduces the chance of seeing those artifacts.

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