Lazy light and star stickers

Wall stickers

Sometimes the colors’ world can be a kind of cryptic. A lot of numbers, measurements, acronyms tightly bind with discoveries, conventions and physics.

Today we went to visit Steve again, to have a little explanation about how to use the spectrophotometer he lent us but as usually, that became an occasion for a little colors lesson. Of course he taught how to make the zero calibration (3 times toward an open space light) and the white calibration of the instrument and then he passed to explain the meaning of the display’s numbers. D56 refers to the daylight. While, for example, the letter “A” stands for an artificial source of light such as tungsten.

Furthermore: CIE 1931, 2° refers to an experiment the misure the vision angle of people looking to a coin they handle, so at an arm-distance. While the convention CIE 1946, 10° refers to the same experiment but with a bigger coin, so the vision angle is wider.

Then, some other acronyms: if do a measure SCI you’re including the specular light, if it’s SCE you want to exclude it (it’s particularly important for glossy surfaces).

He made also al lot of charts trying talking about amount of reflective lights vs the incident light and at [dunno how] we end talking about phosphorescent and fluorescent material. Basically is a question of time. Fascinating how color can be relating with every sort of aspects! Easily speaking, when the light arrive to an object, this object suddenly reflects just a specific wavelength’s range, that is the colour we can see; and the non-reflected amount of light is converted in other energy: heat. But. Not every surface reflect the wavelength immediately, some delay can occur and, moreover, the late reflection can have a wavelength that is different from the initial one.

So, it’s the lazy, latecomer light that makes the stars stickers on my room ceiling bright at night.


Spectro-photo-radio-meter… Lab tour!

Today we had an other quick talk with our tutor Steve, that showed us how the color measurement tools work. Vien had already revealed something, but we hadn’t seen anything in practice, until this afternoon. So, there are 3 rooms, but they have a lot of instruments inside that should be place in more and more space. The room are: measurement laboratory, imaging laboratory and psychophysic (?!) lab, where they do focus groups and surveys.
The measurement tools are divided in two categories:

  1. Spectrophotometer. Instrument that measure colours for contact, connecting with a computer it gives back the color description in term of wave lengths. For this instrument you need flat sample and uniform color.
    Pro: independent from external light, very scientific method.
    Con: can’t measure pattern and screen colors (it records reflected light). Sometimes different wavelengths correspond to the same color, for the weakness of our visione, it doesn’t match the colors.
  2. Spectroradiometer. Instrument used at distance, for measuring avery kind of surfaces and things but:
    Pro: it can measure and record monitor colors (es: color monkey) and also food (you mustn’t touch it), or not flat shape.
    Con: it depends on the external light.

Moreover they have grey boxes, in which you can arrange different light settings, and a particular tool that they’ve invented for taking pictures in a particular light. It’s a big metal box with a drawer where you put the subject of the picture. Then you close the drawer and put the camera on the top of the box, in a stuff designed to handle the camera and to take a picture from the top view. It’s useful for samples with strange shape or pattern surfaces.

Steve also explained to us some practical applications of these tools. Basically (almost) every industrial good is coloured so that (almost) every company need instrument to measure colors. They ran projects with textile companies, pharmaceutical or, for example, with Smarties and Weetabix, that uses a spectroradiometer for checking products quality. But also for the police, he were asked to try to understand the color of a car from a security cam video.

We may think that this subject of studies is very scientific and specific and for more people knowing nothing about it it’s enough, because the ICC (an other interest of color lab) make all the work. But actually colors are everywhere in our life and more and more people are concerned about it.

We’ve also discover this amazing tool called the Swatchmade Cube that will come from Australia..and now we want it!
ps: If it’s not enough have a look at Steve’s blog!
...and maybe buy a new coffee machine, he ensured that it works perfectly!


Conversation with Steve. #2

Conversation with Steve. #2

“Steve and the sleeping giant”

This morning we discovered some more information about the University of Leeds and its history, through a nice chat with Steve, our tutor. He told us that the Textile and Colours department is the most ancient part of the University and that the Clothworkers’ building is its core, founded in 1874, and after that all the others faculties developed around it, since 1904. And textile and colours seems to be exactly what Leeds has always been famous for. Here colors have been considered from a scientific point of view, explored with quantitative methods and strictly related to technology. But.
But in the early 90s, or probably before, there were a crisis in the textile sector due to international competitor with cheaper labour costs.
Moreover, in the 2000, in Leeds there were also a college for Fashion and Arts but its head seems to had have some problem with finance and taxes so the government asked to the Leeds University to absorb the college for not loosing it.

So that, since 2000, the Uiversity of Leeds held its textile and color heritage with this new art and fashion department. They couldn’t have been separated for long, so in 2005 the School of Design were founded.
But a problem still remain: with so different origins in which direction should the school go?

Maybe they should find a common direction and here is the reason for the brand identity project. But for now the school remain a sleeping giant, with high potentialities, looking for his own direction, hesitant between practice and theory. The difference sometimes is not so easy to define.


A quick chat with… Vien Cheung

A quick chat with… Vien Cheung

Insegnante e ricercatrice nel dipartimento Colore della School of Design di Leeds ci incontra per una breve chiacchierata. Ci accoglie raccontandoci del suo unico viaggio in Italia, per una conferenza, a Gargnano (BS), sul lago di Garda. Bello conoscere l’esistenza di città del tuo paese da una ragazza di Hong Kong. Lei è arrivata a Leeds per proseguire le sue ricerche nel campo del colore e della misurazione di esso.

Vien, che insieme ad altri, fa parte dello stesso team di Steve, ci racconta il fascino per questa materia in cui ne intervengono mille altre, in cui si incrociano molti altri saperi: fisica, neuroscienze, percezione.. E aggiungiamo qualche tassello al quadro della School of Design e delle loro ricerche. Dunque: nel lab che, a sentire Vien, non ha niente di fantastico poiché è “tutto grigio” (il grigio serve a fornire un background il più possibile neutro per non influenzare i colori) hanno diverso strumenti di misurazione del colore. Alcuni sono molto precisi, funzionano a contatto, ma possono essere usati solo per colori uniformi e su campioni piatti. Per altre misurazioni, per esempio pattern o altri materiali si servono di Digital camera, professionali certo, ma comunque macchine digitali. Dalle foto scattate poi possono desumere i colori di ogni singolo pixel. Ciò che conta, comunque, è tenere sempre in considerazione quale tipo di luce illumina il nostro colore.

Chiediamo un esempio delle ricerche fanno qui. Molte e diverse applicazioni per altrettante aziende. Colore dei loghi, di stampe, poster ma anche di tessuti, abiti e… denti. Già, un’azienda di dentifrici ha chiesto loro una ricerca (focus group, survey, misurazioni…) per capire che bianco è il bianco dei denti. Ovvero: quand’è che che un sorriso viene percepito come bianco? Ovviamente non è il bianco “fisico” della carta o di uno schermo, risulterebbe innaturale, fuori luogo nel dintorno di labbra, viso… Forse non ci eravamo mai chiesti che bianco è il bianco. Iniziamo oggi.

PS: next Monday we will have a Lab tour!


The illusion is…

“The illusion is to think that color is physical”

S. W.

Interessante chiacchierata con il nostro tutor questa mattina. Steve. Nel suo caotico ufficio, nella School of Design della Leeds University ci tiene a fornirci un’introduzione al mondo del colore e a condividere la sua visione delle cose. Oltre alle informazioni, più o meno note e fresche, su NCS, Munsell e Pantone il discorso si fa interessante e più sottile: “Does colour exist or not?”. Sembra che un avvocato lo chiamasse quasi quotidianamente per avere una risposta all’enigma. Il problema sta nell’ambiguità del termine e nella difficile definizione tra fisica e percezione. La materia colours tocca poi una tale ampiezza e varietà di discipline che sembra di coglierne sempre e solo una parte.

Qui sono alla ricerca delle relazioni tra fisico e percepito.
Buon lavoro!