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5 Color Evaluation Pitfalls to Avoid

Posted March 11, 2016 by Tim Mouw

If you work in an industry where color accuracy is important, you know that lighting plays a huge role in how you perceive color.

A light booth is a crucial part of any visual evaluation program. It can help you verify whether the color of your product is acceptable, plus ensure it will remain accurate in every lighting condition after purchase. When parts are manufactured at different factories, a light booth should also be used to make sure they continue to match under any lighting condition once assembled.

Four Lightbooths

This image shows how different colors look under four different lighting conditions: D65, D50, Store and Home.

Depending on your industry, light booths are either painted Munsell N7 or N8 – both neutral colors that allow your eye to focus without distraction. However, just using a light booth isn’t enough. Here are a few things you need to keep in mind for an accurate visual evaluation program.

  1. Wearing bright clothes or keeping unnecessary objects in your light booth will cause “background noise” for your eyes. Not only can this distract your vision, it can actually cause your perception of the color you’re evaluating to change.
Light booth Evaluation Problems

What’s wrong with this picture?

  1. Placing your light booth too close to a window or in a brightly lit room will introduce other types of light into your evaluation. You should keep your light booth in a dim room without other light sources.
  1. When you’re looking for the slightest variation, tinted lenses can skew the color you see. Even a slight yellow tint in your eyeglass lenses or a light blue color on your contacts can affect color perception. Think of our basic color mixes… yellow + blue = green.
  1. Leaving too much space between samples will not allow you to accurately evaluate color difference. The samples need to be touching to determine color variation.
Fabric Evaluation in SpectraLight QC

Visually evaluating the color of two brown fabric samples in the SpectraLight QC light booth.

  1. Staring at a sample for too long will cause your eyes to fatigue and they’ll start sending incorrect color information to your brain. Ideally you should only look at a sample for a few seconds, then close your eyes and allow them to rest before looking again.

Want to learn more? Check out The Science Behind Visual Evaluation for a more technical explanation for making your visual evaluation program the best it can be.

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