From RGB to reality

It’s been nearly three months since I posted to my blog. The easy excuse during the first week or two was that I was “too busy” with holiday planning to make time for blogging, but after that I have to admit it was simple inertia that kept me away. I just couldn’t seem to muster the energy and inspiration necessary to put fingers to keyboard in order to write a credible post. So, with apologies for my absence and hopeful that this doesn’t happen again anytime soon, I am glad to be back with a post for Brenda’s Third Thursday Challenge.

We’ve been busy since the beginning of the year with several home improvement projects. We wanted to (finally) decorate the plant shelves in the family room and kitchen and, after nine years in our home, it was well past time to have the outside of the house painted. And, though there is still plenty to do, I am happy to report that the exterior painting is done and the interior decorating is well underway. By now, however, Third Thursday Challenge readers are probably wondering how all this relates to a challenge involving photography and Photoshop. Well, let me tell you about it…

I ordered a wreath for the front door area before we settled on exterior paint colors. I hoped the custom arrangement and front door color would work together because I believed the new color I selected was reasonably close to the original. What I didn’t consider is how very bright(!) the new color would be compared to the faded color it replaced. Unfortunately, the wreath and door color (to the right of the wreath) aren’t as complimentary as I hoped. I am somewhat disappointed in the result, but the remainder of this post reports how I plan to prevent similar problems in the future.

Most Photoshop users will be familiar with using the eyedropper tool to sample colors from an image so those colors can be used for type or other design elements in a project. In fact, Photoshop’s Indexed Color feature (Image>Mode>Indexed Color) can be used to create a color table of up to 256 of the most prominent colors in an image. The resulting color table can then be loaded and saved as a swatch set.

It took a bit of experimentation and, as noted in this tutorial, the process worked better when I cropped my image to exclude everything except the colors I wanted to capture. It turned out I didn’t like all the indexed results so I deleted the swatches I didn’t like and replaced them with colors I manually sampled from the image. The inset below shows the image portion I used and the resulting color palette.

Wreath Color Palette

Wreath Color Palette

What I wanted to derive from all this was some idea what paint colors best complimented the wreath. It turns out there are a number of online tools available, including EasyRGB, which allow you to match RGB or hexadecimal codes to commercial paint tints. The inset below shows several possibilities from the Sherwin Williams line that correspond with the purple flowers of my wreath.

Wreath "purple"

Our original colors have long since been retired, but I found a clone source for them by searching for the Sherwin Williams name and color number. I sampled each of those digital color chips in Photoshop to find their hex numbers and was then able to enter that information into EasyRGB to find the closest matches in Sherwin Williams’ current color inventory. Bottom line: if my objective was to match the original door color as closely as possible I should have used SW 6286 Mature Grape because it was the only color in common between the two processes. And finally, as you can see, the new color SW 6566 Framboise, which is superimposed on SW 6286 Mature Grape, is indeed quite a bit brighter than what we had originally.

I must admit I did think about having the door repainted to be a better match, but I finally decided that both the door and the wreath will eventually fade. But, when it is time to update either one or both, I will be better prepared to make satisfactory color selections for both!

7 thoughts on “From RGB to reality

  1. What a lovely surprise to see your comment on my blog…I rushed right over and am delighted to see you back!…I would never have thought of colour matching this way…you ARE clever!
    Alison xx

  2. Wanda, Welcome back my friend I have sure missed you. Having had the honor of visiting your home, seeing the color selections, and seeing the plant shelves have been decorated all I can say is that you did a wonderful job. Your home is beautiful, and could be pictured in a Better Homes and Garden type magazine. Agaom welcome back. Bill

  3. Good to see you again! I’ve been hoping all has been well – and fascinating to read how to do the colour matching for paint. I’ve often lamented the lack of this! Hoping to see you again soon …

  4. Wanda! Welcome back, I’ve missed you! I love the way you’ve come out swinging. This is a great post for Third Thursday Challenge and combines two of my loves, photography and decorating. I’ve never done a swatch in Photoshop, but I’m going to check out the tutorial and give it a try. Thanks for the inspiration.

  5. Wanda – so good to have you back here in blogland! I have missed your voice. And how wonderful that your re-entry was to write a Third Thursday Challenge post. Your investigation into color samples was extremely interesting. I had no idea that there were ways to match up RGB colors to commercial paint chips. How cool is that? I have always loved paint swatches – there is just something so arresting about that wall of tiny color squares – so much possibility and potential. Welcome back. Thank you for sharing your findings with the Third Thursday Challenge.

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