Color reproduction is a tricky subject on the net. If the only problem was matching a color on your monitor to the one of the real object, all you'd need would be a little eye training. But alas, that's only the beginning, and controlling the chain of events all the way to the user is right now basically impossible. The problem is that every monitor is adjusted in a subtly different way, and the color that's ordered from the web server by the designer will look different according to the monitor's interpretation, sometimes very different from the original color.
Color resolution is a big variable - you can routinely find in use on user monitors between 8, 12 and 24 bits, and if you factor in plain screen resolution (pixels per inch) you can blend colors more or less well for perception by the user's eye. Lower resolutions can definitely produce speckled patterns ('dither') when you attempt to reproduce more sophisticated colors. A smart web designer will design their pages with the 256 'safe' web colors guaranteed not to dither on low-resolution monitors. But we can't be smart in this case, because one of the joys of good yarns is precisely the sophisticated colors :-). Another completely individual adjustment is the gamma setting, which refers to the brightness of the monitor. There are also general problems with it, for instance it's well known that a Mac will show a color as much lighter when it was generated on a Windows machine (our case).
Fuzzy does try hard to make your colors as true to life as possible. Most importantly, we match each real object to a Pantone chip. Pantone has for a long while set the standard in printing colors, and they do provide a 'standard' web value for each of their 1000+ colors, expressed in hex, which is what we display to you. Every web site you look at which uses Pantone as a standard will at least have a consistent color deviation dependant on your monitor adjustment.
We give you these Pantone color numbers in hopes that you have access to a set of Pantone chips, and can see for yourself what the true color is, live. Most designers or people involved with printing have some version of them, you're probably able to borrow one if you think about it. But also Pantone has now come out with a shopping guide which is affordable enough. We encourage you to get one if you'd like to see these colors without going through the current samples ordering rigamarole, and we hope more sites see the light and use Pantone as a standard.
Note that while the entire site is copyrighted, this method of color display is most expressly proprietary, and that we are not giving permission for anyone to just copy the HTML representation of these yarn colors after all our hard work. You're welcome to link to our site if you want your users to have access to them.
We also show you the web colors in large areas, to avoid visual interference from neighboring small chips. But remember that we can't compensate for the effect of texture on perceived color, or for the way different fibers reflect light. The same Pantone match in slick chenille or matte Tekapo will not look exactly the same in person.
We scan sample cards for you, so you can see at a glance the range of colors available for a yarn. These scans are adjusted for realism on our Windows machine, using our decent but not superlative hardware. Your mileage may obviously vary. When there is a perceptible difference between the scanned sample and the "color page" for a specific color, chances are that the color page is closer to reality, it's the one you might want to go on..
Need we bother to mention that printing a web page makes the color rendition so far off as to be unworkable? Even if you should manage to adjust your printer to reproduce a color from your own screen exactly, and stuck to a specific brand of ink/toner, you'd probably still get different results as you worked through your cartridges. But most of all the monitor and printer each add their own proprietary layers of interpretation to display instructions that make it impossible to guess what the variation might be on the same desired color. In short, the color you see on your monitor may not be entirely satisfactory, but if you print it you're completely off by definition.
When all else fails, try to send us email explaining your desires, and/or to order yarn color samples. The only consolation we can offer is that paper printing is far from an exact science as well, and that only a well-trained printer in possession of an original object has a fair chance of getting close. Sigh.
First published: 7/18/02
All rights reserved. © Fuzzy Galore 2002-2006.