Consistent color is a journey.
A few weeks ago I blogged about the most common pitfalls people run into when starting a color program…
- Wrong lighting
- Less-than-perfect color vision
- Inaccurate physical standards
- Inconsistent device color measurement
…And introduced some inexpensive color tools to help overcome them.
But the journey doesn’t stop there. Even if you’ve been successfully managing color for years, advances in inks, dyes, and substrates are introducing new challenges, and many brands are asking for tighter tolerances. Getting color right is much harder than it used to be.
Today we’ll look at some of the more advanced tools available to help you take the next step toward more consistent color.
At X-Rite Pantone, we pride ourselves on our ability to help customers specify, communicate, formulate, and produce consistent color. You’re probably familiar with our major markets, like plastics, industrial coatings, and print & packaging. You may also be aware of the more “common” things we measure, like paint, printed surfaces, and textiles.
But, as you look for the emergency exit on a plane, watch a butterfly float by, or choose the freshest package of cheese from the grocer, do you consider the role of color? Today we’re stepping out of the box to highlight some very unique applications of our color management solutions to help you think about color differently.
Farmers use the Munsell Soil Color Chart to evaluate the suitability of soil for crops.
You say color is important, but do you know why it’s so important? In reality, color is a critical element in the manufacturing process. Unfortunately, many manufacturers are realizing that getting color right is much harder than it used to be, and the brands they support are asking them to meet tighter tolerances.
While advances in color technology – think metallic packaging, pearlescent finishes, custom fabrics and vibrant new colors – entice customers, they also make it much more difficult to achieve consistency.
Our color measurement devices are used by designers, brand owners, formulators, printers, and manufacturers around the world. Ranging from portable handheld devices, to large benchtop instruments, to spectrophotometers mounted inline, they can measure just about anything to help formulate and maintain a perfect color match.
Many of our customers, especially those in the paint industry, are asked to color match some pretty interesting things, and we love to hear about them. We recently asked 40 people the following question:
What is the most unusual thing you or one of your customers has measured?
Read on for snippets from the interesting, funny, and sometimes gross responses!
Want to measure the color of splattered baby food? No problem with the CAPSURE device! See the rest of the video here.
When you walk into a salon for a manicure or visit your favorite beauty products store, are you overwhelmed by the number of nail polish colors to choose from, but can’t actually find the color you want? This is a problem Ashley Morgan set out to solve.
Morgan, who has a fine arts degree, has spent the last 15 years designing video games. She’s both creative and tech savvy. “I’m a nail polish advocate, and I don’t mind spending the time choosing a nail polish color,” she says. “But the available colors don’t really mean anything to me. I had the idea that people should be able to not only create their own nail polish colors but give them a meaningful name. But how to go about it?”
For many of us, fun in the sun can lead to a summertime tan. The science behind this sun + skin interaction is melanin, a skin pigment our body releases to block the UV rays found in sunlight. The more time we spend in the sun, the more melanin is released, and the darker (or more freckled) our skin becomes.
This shift in skin tone doesn’t matter for most people, but for prosthetic wearers even a slight change can be a big deal. Here’s how Royal Preston hospital in the United Kingdom is using color management to ensure their patients’ prosthetics match, regardless of the color of their skin.
Can you see this man’s facial prosthesis? The color is so perfectly matched that it looks completely natural.
Have you ever walked out of the house wearing two black socks, only to arrive at work and realize one of them is navy blue? If so, you’ve been a victim of metamerism.
Metamerism is a phenomenon that occurs when two colors appear to match under one lighting condition, but not when the light changes.
This picture shows the same dyed wool swatches under U30 fluorescent (top) and A incandescent (bottom) light sources. Notice how the samples appear to change color? This, of course, is something manufacturers want to avoid. Metameric matches are quite common, especially in near neutral colors like grays, whites, and dark colors like these. As colors become lighter or more saturated, the range of possible metameric matches becomes smaller.
To manage metamerism during color production, you need to know what causes it.
Did you know that many of the products you use every day contain optical brighteners?
Optical brightening agents are chemicals that manufacturers add to products like paper, plastics, and textiles to make them appear whiter and brighter, and to lessen the natural yellowing process that happens over time. They also add these chemicals to cleaning agents to enhance the appearance of materials – primarily textiles – after cleaning.
Often unacknowledged by the typical consumer, OBAs trick our eyes into seeing a brighter white. To understand how they work, read on. We’ll dig into light-object relationships, the primary reason behind this brighter than white phenomenon.
When viewed under normal lighting conditions, these plastic parts appear bright white, but when viewed under UV light, you can see the glowing effect of the optical brighteners that were added.
In the world of retail paint, getting to the best color match quickly is key to keeping your customers happy and coming back for more. Today we’ll review ways to get the most from your color measurement tools so your associates can be color experts, and you can enjoy fewer corrections and improved profitability.
Do any of these swatches match the customer’s quilt? Not really. Gain customer’s trust by creating a perfectly matched paint color.
Green is green, right?
Maybe if you’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, but not when your bottom line is impacted by color accuracy.
In the color industry, a tolerance is the acceptable amount of difference between a standard (the color you’re trying to match) and a sample (the color you are producing). To determine whether a color is within tolerance, many manufacturers use a color measurement device called a spectrophotometer to measure both colors and compare the difference between them. This difference is known as the Delta E.
Generally, the amount of color difference that the naked eye will notice is somewhere around a Delta E of 1 (a trained colorist may be able to see much less), but that’s just a starting point. Acceptable color tolerance varies by application and industry.
If you’re printing billboards on a wide-format printer, for example, the color doesn’t need to be as exact as it does for small plastic toy parts that must match once they’re assembled. While a Delta E of 3, or even 5, may be acceptable for the billboard, the toy won’t pass inspection if the color of the parts is farther apart than a Delta E of 1.
There’s something else that must be considered when setting tolerances in manufacturing, and it’s great news for manufacturers producing St. Patrick’s Day merchandise. It’s harder for us to detect slight shifts in the color green than it is in other colors like reds, blues, and tans.
Today we’ll look at an experiment conducted by David MacAdam in the 1940s that helps us understand why some colors have tolerances that are farther apart than others.