Tones, Inks, And Pixels: The Process Of Translating Colors From The Screen

By now, many people are familiar with the fact that there is more than one color model in use today, with alphabet soup names derived from the colors of their primaries: RYB, RGB, and CMYK. The first of them, with the familiar fusion of red, yellow, and blue, are the ones most often taught to children and represent the traditional model used in visual art theory.

Image source: Dorling Kindersley via thespruce.com

Elsewhere, this model has been supplanted either by the triad of red, green, and blue (used in digital applications) and the quartet of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (used in print). In general, these three models work well for their respective media. The unique composition of many paints, for instance, makes red a preferable primary, especially since painters frequently mix colors on their canvasses. The inking process benefits from the broad assortment of color created by its lighter primaries in turn.

In our mixed media world, however, this becomes a challenge, especially when attempting to translate a specific color from one medium to another one that uses an altogether distinct color scheme. There exists a certain degree of difficulty in translating colors in print and digital to paint.

Merely bringing a printout to the color mixer at the paint shop was unlikely to replicate the colors exactly due to the many uncontrollable variables present, such as the calibration of the printer and paint mixing machine.

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Achieving a remarkably close shade requires acquiring its data values—under the terms RGB, HEX, CMYK, and HSB—and running them through one of many online color calculators, which can translate these values (based on the expected light source) and yield the appropriate swatch and color harmonies.

Steve Silvers is the founder of residential and commercial painting solutions company Paint Squad. Visit this blog for more information on colors and interior spaces.

Alphabet Palette: Examining The Models Of Color

Color models revolve around primaries, a group of colors which, when mixed, create further derivative colors. Each color model has its own set of primaries, the initials of which give the color model its name.

Each color model is sorted as additive or subtractive, which is based on how color is derived from a particular wavelength of light being reflected and perceived by the human eye. Paint and ink employ a subtractive model, which involves the physically mixing different pigments to create color, whereas computer screens employ an additive color model that involves mixing different wavelengths of light to create color.

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Image source: hgtv.com

This leads to peculiar situations wherein mixing colors in one medium does not always yield the same result as the other; mixing green and red light, for instance, produces yellow, which is a far cry from the brown created by mixing red and green paint.

Perhaps the most familiar color model to the layperson is the RYB color model, popularized in wheel form by Sir Isaac Newton. Its primaries are red, yellow, and blue, which are often the first things to come to mind when one hears the word “primary color.” It is quite limited in scope; thus, it has largely been superseded in other graphic disciplines. It remains the principal color model used by artists and paint stores.

Extensively employed in the modern print industry, the CMYK model yields a broader assortment of colors. It retains yellow as a primary but swaps blue and red with cyan and magenta, respectively. The K stands for “key” and designates the color black. While black is formed from the combination of all three primaries in the model, in practice it is treated as a separate color to save on ink and to produce higher contrasts.

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Image source: worqx.com

Because of the differences between them. Converting from one color model to another can be a challenge. Tools exist to help individuals approximate CMYK tones to paint Pantone’s.

Steve Silvers is the owner of Paint Squad, a painting service that caters to the needs of both homes and businesses. Visit this blog for more updates on important painting considerations.