Thursday, June 2, 2011

Color Theory Class: Why Online Swatches Never Match

Have you ever wondered why a swatch on a website will be totally different from what the product looks like when you actually get it home...*cough*MAC...? Well it turns out that its a lot harder to get those colors to match up than you think. 

L'Oreal has this online classroom where all employees can take extra classes for free! The classes range from computer knowledge, leadership, languages, to beauty skills. Yesterday I took a quick class on color theory. It walked me through how the eye perceives color and why some colors look different with different lighting. For example, A tree's leaves at mid-day will look more vibrant than at dusk because the angle and amount of light reflecting off of the leaves is more intense when the sun is the brightest. 

But back to how it relates to online swatches...

Everyone is taught the standard color wheel with Red, Yellow, and Blue as the primary colors; but these are only the primary colors when working with things we see visually-real life objects. Online images have a totally different color wheel and different primary colors. It gets more complicated when talking about print, which has a third totally different color wheel and primary colors. 

So you can imagine how difficult it is to perfectly match a shade of lipstick from the actual product, to the printed sticker on the bottom, to the swatch you see online.... because they all use different color wheels.

Also, a color combination that looks great on print may not translate to the web or real life objects because again... they all use a different color wheels! Companies spend thousands of dollars getting colors to match up on ad campaigns. Who knew?! 

I'm off to take a french lesson from home. I guess I'm missing being in school a little...

Kelsey, the college cosmetic 

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