How to Make Accurate Color Decisions from Home

Across the globe, companies are continually adapting to the constraints of conducting business remotely. For many industries, this means  bringing designers, quality control specialists and others involved in product development together virtually to make time-sensitive color decisions from home. In an age when digital color measurement is more important than ever, evaluating color on screen—instead of in person—requires the utmost accuracy and precision.

 

Datacolor offers a range of tools to support precise on-screen color evaluation from anywhere in the world, in real time. But, before a single color decision can be made, a few crucial steps are required to transform a home office into a color management command center.

 

Optimizing the Home Office Environment

 

We know the best equipment is only as effective as the environment around it. How can we ensure we’re making the right decisions about color from home? When it comes to optimizing the remote workplace, two key factors are at play: the monitor and the lighting.

 

Final decisions about color are often a collaborative effort that requires physical samples. So how are accurate decisions made when colleagues can’t meet in the office? In order to achieve this and also bypass shipping physical lab dips, a color-calibrated monitor is essential. (We like the Eizo ColorEdge CG279X.) Inherent in any monitor is a limitation on the gamut of colors that can be realized. The human eye can see as many as 15 million different colors. While a monitor can’t match that, calibration helps to ensure the colors that are in gamut are a realistic rendering of the true color. The Datacolor Spyder quickly measures the light output of the screen and calibrates it accordingly, maximizing the monitor’s color representation accuracy.

 

Equally critical to the virtual color workflow process is lighting, or lack thereof. Ideally, color should be evaluated in near-darkness. A windowless room is ideal, but drawing a curtain around the workspace can help. At a minimum, the lights should be dimmed to enhance the accuracy of on-screen color decisions.

 

Developing a Color Palette During the Design Phase

 

At the earliest stage of the product development cycle, designers aim to achieve color harmony by evaluating and refining color selections until the final color palette is approved. This is followed by an iterative lab dipping process, even when there is still some uncertainty about whether or not a palette color will actually go to production.

 

This is a time-intensive and costly process that typically requires shipping physical samples across the globe, only to require additional lab dips to correct off-shade submissions. Datacolor Envision turns this process on its head, allowing designers to refine a color palette digitally and focus on a finite set of achievable shades—without producing scores of off-shade samples. Envision is used in a wide range of industries, including cosmetics, automotive, plastics, paint and coatings and textile.

 

In a virtual environment, Envision applies color measurement data to detailed images and textures on a calibrated screen, producing lifelike product simulations to inform color decisions. The software adapts to the available illuminant, whether it be natural daylight, fluorescent lighting or LED, to ensure the color is accurately represented in the context of its lighting source.

 

Envision can also apply a color to a specific substrate on screen. If we’re talking about the textile industry, this could range from flat, woven or knit fabrics to final garments. Adding texture creates a realistic representation of how certain colors will appear on specific products. Making decisions earlier in the color development process translates to less time spent focusing on the wrong colors, less money spent producing and shipping unnecessary samples, and less environmental waste across the supply chain.

 

Measuring Color During the Production Phase

 

The efficiencies of digital color management extend far beyond the design team and color office. Mills or factories tasked with bringing a specific color to life on a specific material have myriad colorants at their fingertips, each with their own price point and set of characteristics. How do we narrow the scope of their choices?

 

Enter Envision again, which provides a method for rendering a theoretical reflectance curve on-screen for each colorant combination, thereby providing the  opportunity to visualize how a shade will change under different light sources. Perhaps it will flare in one direction under daylight, yet flare in the opposite direction under fluorescent light. With this information, the supplier can avoid costly reformulations.

 

Datacolor Tools is an intuitive quality control application that allows companies to perform a side-by-side evaluation of samples in multiple light sources to determine how much variation can be expected in the real world—without actually coloring any products. By enabling objective analysis, reporting, communication and visualization of color results, Tools brings all of the key players across the supply chain together virtually to support remote collaboration and decision making.

 

Working from home is here to stay, on a global scale. This phenomenon has created an opportunity to showcase how digital color measurement dramatically increases speed, efficiency and accuracy across the supply chain, while reducing costs and mitigating negative environmental impacts. Our team can help you develop a digital color workflow to meet the moment with software that makes precise color decisions a (virtual) reality.