Living in Color

Color can be so difficult to evaluate. Viewing a photo of green grass under a bright incandescent lamp might appear more yellowish than if you view it outdoors on an overcast day. It’s not only photos that can be affected by their lighting conditions. These seemingly small variances can have a huge effect on the overall mood of a design.

There are many factors that can affect the way we perceive color, creating problems for designers and clients alike. This sticker can tell you if you’re viewing your color-critical images under the correct conditions. If you don’t see stripes, you’re good. Sort of like a litmus test for light.

A printer showed me this the other day as I was attending a client’s press run of a new design. Like all good printers, they were taking great pains to ensure they had consistent lighting conditions at their press day in and day out. I had never seen such a sticker, and my contact there was nice enough to let me have one for fun. After taking it back to the studio, I was pleased to see that our large skylight was able to provide us with slightly cool light on a sunny day, yet with a careful mixture of overhead incandescent lights, we were in great shape. I’m now sticking it onto just about anything I can find.

While this is not the sort of thing that matters to most, it’s great for us to have a reliable point of reference. Here’s what it should always look like (note the first image was more yellowish, which caused the stripes to be visible):