Monday, October 1, 2007

In the eye of the beholder?

As I promised Richard, I will tread lightly...
Many of you might have had the great advantage of learning these things first hand, but I must apologize since I did not.

Also, I have formerly approached color theory systems from my graphics background, which is pretty much a whole other ball-game - all though I believe that Munsell was likely very involved with the creation of the Pantone Matching System for Offset and sheet fed printers.

After reading about Scott's writing to the producer of the Chart PDF and how to get it printed, it just kept playing over and over in my mind, that when you get down to learning this system - it is beyond detailed - so other than having a Richard, Marvin or Graydon holding your hand - isn't the match of color critical?

This lead me to a question, likely pertaining to graphics more, but doesn't it still apply that you are only as good as your equipment? In this case with the printing of a chart, it would include calibrated monitors, printer but most importantly the eyes of the pre-press operator. Color is in the eye of the beholder, right!

I am sure most are very familiar with this publication, but I found this piece of equipment to be really interesting, excluding the the densitometers etc for lithographers there is this simple...

"Farnsworth-Munsell 100 Hue Test", which basically tells you who you are trusting. Taking it to far? Bogus waste of time? I was just interested in your thoughts.

I will try to move my mindset to painting only.

The test is described as follows:

"This easy-to-administer test is a highly effective method for measuring an individual’s color vision. Used by governments and industry for over 40 years, the test is used to evaluate and rank color acuity. The test consists of four trays containing a total of 85 removable color reference caps (incremental hue variation) spanning the visible spectrum. Color vision aptitude is detected by the ability of the test subject to place the color caps in order of hue. "


Rich said...

Pantone colors typically have a 10%± range, no matter what equipment they are output on. It eventually comes down operator ability, as you say.

GrayHound said...

Not sure what you're suggesting here. Would you use the Farns-Munsell to test the color aptitude of the press operator?

This test would be child's play to an experienced press operator in a good print shop. I haven't run a press, but I took this color test about 12 years ago to qualify as an ink tech/mixer in an industrial printing setting. I passed the test without any problems, but was blown away by the operators' ability to discern color. It took some time for me to get up to snuff, color test notwithstanding.

Of course, discerning color variation is one thing, and being able to achieve the target color on the press is another.

Still, I'm not sure I understand why one would want a perfectly matched chart from a printer. Ultimately, you what have to match the color in paint, and isn't that what the munsell chips are for?


marsha said...

I agree Tom. The poster could never take the place of the chips from The Big Book, no matter how well it's printed - as far as our work is concerned.

But it would give people a big color idea of what's available in with this system...and it would look great on the studio wall!

nystudios said...

None of this matters when it comes to using Munsell for painting. Today I was painting a woman with bright magenta shorts. I took out my big book found the local for the shorts to be 7.5RP 6/8. So I just mixed up that color and 7.5RP 4/8 and 7.5RP 8/8, and painted her shorts perfectly (well maybe not perfectly, but that has to do with me not my ability to discern color) by using 3 value modulation.

You could score perfectly on a test that still isn't going to make you paint any better.

Dave said...

Surely, what the test described here is doing (as well as weeding out the plain stupid or unobservant) is ensuring that operators do not have defects in their colour-vision - a basic check on whether they are at a serious physiological disadvantage.

There are a variety of well-described mutations in photopigment genes leading to well-documented anomalies in colour-vision (so-called "colour-blindness" of various types ).

I wonder, however, beyond this, how many minor allelic variations there are in these genes which might cause very subtle variations (due to slighter shifts/alterations in the spectral response curves) not falling within the conventional definitions of "colour-blindness" (and not relevant within the general population, but perhaps relevant within groups desiring very precise colour-descrimination, such as ourselves) - and heterozygosity of carrier states or of different "normal" alleles in females, for example, as compared with the single allelic expression or "colour-blind" alleles (or even of variant "normal" alleles) in males.

ewschott said...

Neal and Tom I believe you are right, I posted this solely thinking about the printing of the poster.

I am not sure which type of press house you are referring too, but I have worked with good and bad, but the difference might be those reproducing art prints or commercial sheet fed offset. The press guys could whip a press sheet onto a light table with your chromalins and you'd pull out your loop and have at it. I think their skill was adjusting the right process color to fix things that were off, all the while your account sales guy is telling you how perfect it is HA... this is were we received the blessed name DFA. This story just goes to what you said... "ink tech mixer", those guys had to know more... but now it's digital - now those guys are all gone - now there is "Hal". Hal (the computer) tells how it should all come together, but who/whom is telling HAL?

Likely this is totally irrelevant, but if the eye is catching things differently when interpreting a theory that has become a science it will affect the outcome in printing. I think it affecting mixing paint as a fine artist would is not the same thing. Personally I think these little nuances make artist different from one another.

When studying with Liberace, (I am sure some of you are familiar with his palette - it is very hard to work with) he takes color to the max. We were discussing a piece I was working on from a very olive skin fella and he keep saying you need to lose this, and I would say it's right there, he would say you need to lose it, I would go up to the model and point to the actual light - it was there, if I had a chip to hold up you would have seen it, he would still say you need to lose it... He finally said "yeah it's there, but it doesn't work", to me, this is when the "eye" is really seeing. Even if it's a softer hue or one with full blown chroma, knowing how to see it is everything.

Dave, have you ever played "Trivial Pursuit" with a person who is color blind? HA, What a hoot!

Scott said...

well, I could just call the pdf up and measure my paints against the on-screen color...hahahah...kinda like the "blonde joke" secretary who used white-out on the screen! LOL!