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.

Image source: thoughtco.com

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.