Thursday, March 5, 2015

When It Comes To Color, It's A Matter of Perspective

A Printer's Eternal Struggles with Color (Illustrated by the Dress that Launched a Thousand Arguments)

At Plum Grove + Tradeshows And Displays, we understand that beauty is in the eye of the beholder-- and that blue is not blue to everybody. The controversy over the white-and-gold or black-and-blue dress began this past Thursday. A Tumblr user posted a photo of a dress and asked for help in identifying its color.

Some saw white and gold, while others saw black and blue. Why is this?

It's partly due to the contrast on your monitor and the angle at which you are viewing. Some people have seen the dress in both color combinations, depending on the website and the viewing device.

It's also due to your perception and the way your brain processes visual input. Sometimes the human brain makes presumptions, or takes shortcuts, based on past experience. This is illustrated using the Adelson checkerboard optical illusion. Square A is exactly the same shade as square B, but they appear to be totally different:

The dress is a perfect example of why we tell clients not to use PDF files to review and approve colors. Tradeshows And Displays requires hard proofs for virtually all projects. Our proofs are printed on the actual media and printer that will be used in the final output. So you get a totally accurate view of your graphics-- colors in particular.

Look how the contrast of your monitor can alter perception. The middle photo below could easily be seen as white and gold. Bump up the contrast and it's indigo (on the right). In case you were wondering, the actual dress is blue and black (on the left).

So next time you see proofs listed on your estimate, you can be sure that it's money well spent, and you'll get what you expect. Our goal is happy customers!

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