What color is that?

I was doing some window treatment renderings on my PC  for a course I’m writing, and the colors were off when I printed them. Once the renderings are done on the PC, I move them over to my desktop iMac for inclusion in mood boards, and for emailing or printing.

The desktop displays colors very accurately and the colors as they were showing on my PC were very different. A bit of color variance is to be expected but the variances were really noticeable, and because I was working with subtle shades and tints, and I had to fix it.

How to tell your friend in Cape Breton exactly what color your new shoes are.

I tried the usual things but nothing worked well enough. I had to have the printed version representing the exact color I specified.  If you think about it for a minute, this is exactly the same problem a dress designer in her littler atelier in Canoe encounters when she is talking to the fabric mill, trying to explain the color of the blue she is talking about. Or the graphic artist who is designing your business logo and says, ‘This red, not this one, or this one, but THIS one.’

What brought this home the other day is the color of the year. It’s called ‘Living Coral.’ I think it’s a deep peachy color. But that isn’t a very apt description for the paint-mixing guy. His idea of deep peach may be something totally different. And if I choose a paint chip under the lights in the paint store, chances are really good it won’t look the same at my home.

The solution? Use a color identification system to identify the color. They are used for every colored object in your life. No kidding.  If you are a quilter and you want to explain that peachy color to your friend in Nova Scotia, you can do it by simply telling her the color identification system you are using, giving her a few numbers, and she can access that exact color through good old Professor Google.

Pantone developed a system of color identification which is used with a physical copy a big book that has about 3000 colors. For example,  that dress designer in Canoe gets out her big Pantone color book and gives the factory the color of the blue as it’s listed in the book.  They get out their book and now everyone is speaking the same language. (Realize that the Pantone book came about before the Internet.)

It lists the CMKY components of that color as percentages and the factory can match it exactly. ( CMKY refers to the amount of Cyan(blue) Magenta (red) Yellow and Key(/black) ) as well as other proprietary information.

My design software allows me to choose a color based on a selection of colors on the monitor, through a slider, through a color wheel, or by entering the CKYN, or RGB numbers. RGB represents the amount of Red, Green, or Blue and is listed as three numbers separated by commas.

Or, ( last one) you could use HEX  or HTML codes. This system uses a combination of letters and numbers to identify each of 1.6 million colors. 

So how does this apply to the home decor DIY-er?

You have found the perfect paint color. In paint you don’t have access to. So you can go to ‘Easy RGB’ and enter the name of the paint color you have found, and the system will give you several alternative paint company colors close to what you have chosen,  and the RGB and Hex of all of those colors.

Here are the RGB results for a Benjamin Moore 2062-60, Blue Hydrangea. This system paints the background color of the original paint color.  Please take a great big note here, I am NOT suggesting color-matching paint. Each paint company has their own formulas, and their paints are built around these formulas. They can often get close to another paint companies colors, but they can not match exactly, and often the quality of the paint suffers in matching. Click here to read a column about this.

Or, you have chosen an area rug and can’t find a sofa in a matching color. Get the color number from the area rug and match it to the sofa.  Good color matching software will do that for you.

There are also sites where you can upload an image and it will give you the number of each color in that image. Here’s one: http://www.coolphptools.com/color_extract#demo. 

This is a good way to find the colors in a rug, for example, to help you choose paint or furniture colors. Here’s a swatch of an Aubusson rug online which I ran through Coolphptools…

canva.com/color-palette/ is another one, but it looks like it only lists the 5 most prevalent colors, not all of them.

So, my solution to my color variations issue is to use a paint fan deck to choose the color I want, get the RGB numbers of that color, and use those in my renderings. It may look wonky on the PC monitor, but it’s perfect when printed or viewed on a better monitor.


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2 thoughts on “What color is that?”

  1. Thanks, Dot.. seeing all the colours in a photo is a lot of fun.. as well as really helpful.

  2. Wow! What an interesting article! I have bookmarked this page and filed it as well! Knowledge IS power! Thanks for this information.

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