Color is complex. For something so instrumental to our lives, the world of color is a deep rabbit hole of subtle nuances and inconsistent schools of thought. I have always been fascinated with color as well as the various mediums its delivered through. During the research phase of the color conversion tools for Brandisty, the many complexities of color became very apparent. In this post, we explore color at a high level and arm you with some of the technical details you must know about color as well as your brand.
Color may be represented in a wide array of models. All these designs have different color spaces. With a extremely high level, this really is what you ought to know about color models:
Digital: color as display by light.
Print: color represented with ink.
Perceptual: color as perceived from the eye.
The color spectrum a persons eye can interpret surpasses so what can be presented in both digital and print color models. The way in which color is perceived can also be subjective and can differ person to person. Pantone Color Book is often employed to convert color between digital and print color models. This can be regularly accomplished using ICC color profiles.
Converting between color spaces for various devices is a pretty complex process. Its difficult to represent colors shown on digital screen via printed mediums. Each printer has slightly different capabilities when mixing ink, and each medium being printed on (i.e. coated vs. uncoated paper, shirts, mugs, etc.) will respond differently to the ink.
Not long ago the International Color Consortium (ICC) was formed to tackle the problem. A simple little bit of history from their about page:
The International Color Consortium was established in 1993 by eight industry vendors just for creating, promoting and encouraging the standardization and evolution of the open, vendor-neutral, cross-platform color management system architecture and components. The end result with this co-operation was the growth of the ICC profile specification.
The first time I read that, it blew my thoughts. There exists a color consortium trying to standardize just how the world uses color?! Who would of thought?
ICC color profiles are actually popular for color conversion between digital and print devices. When working with various printers, you could be sent a particular device ICC profile to calibrate your print job with. Two common workspace color profiles for digital and print are:
These profiles are usually the defaults on most Adobe products, and therefore are usually already installed on your computer. The download links are offered for reference.
Each color mode has several color spaces. Color spaces represent color in various formats. For example, the purple block displayed could be represented both in digital (left side) and print (right side) using the following values:
In terms of branding you will likely encounter color represented inside the following formats:
RGB (digital): RGB is short for Red, Green, Blue and means the user of color generated by light. Not all representations of light are equal, and the way color appears in one digital device to the next can seem to be different. To really have consistent digital color, each device would need to be calibrated. RGB values will typically be represented with three digits between and 255; though you will sometimes encounter three values between and 1 in decimal form.
Hex (digital): Hexadecimal format is just another way of representing RGB values. Typically you will notice Hex values beginning from a hash (#) followed by either three or six alpha numeric characters eysabm from -9 along with a-f.
CMYK (print): CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (black) and is easily the most common print color space. CMYK can be quite a bit inconsistent from device to device since the color will be blended during print. Each printing device has different capabilities, in order to achieve print perfection each device will need to be calibrated. CMYK values will typically be represented with four digits between -100; even though you will sometimes encounter three values between and 1 in decimal form.
PANTONE (print): Is a proprietary color space used primarily within the printing industry but also has been utilized with manufacturing colored paint, plastics and fabric. When brands will be used in print, its an excellent idea to choose PANTONE colors. The main advantage of PANTONE over CMYK is PANTONE colors are premixed, where CMYK colors are mixed during print. Using PANTONE colors, a brand can maintain color consistency since PANTONE is usually accountable for mixing the ink color. PANTONE color values could be represented in various ways, but typically begin with either PMS or PANTONE and lead to either C for Coated or U for Uncoated.
Color goes deep, but its a crucial component of just how a brand is recognized. With the information above you may be armed with the information essential to maintain color consistency when your brand is spread through various mediums.