Trusting what a paint color looks like in a magazine, Pinterest, or Instagram is a great way to set yourself up for disappointment.
It’s been said that a picture is worth 1000 words, which is a good thing IF it’s conveying the correct words. Is it any wonder then that shelter magazines and Pinterest are so popular? Visually driven individuals love these resources because the photos allow us to “see” the finished product and set aside the fear that besets so many of us choosing to make a change. After all, the beautiful snapshots are verification of what our completed projects will look like, correct? Well. not exactly…
I wager to say you are among the throngs of people who have found the “perfect” paint color on a Pinterest board, or in House Beautiful magazine. I also bet you were elated to find the paint color name listed so that you could pick up a swatch at your local paint store. Only, the paint swatch looked very little like the color in your magazine or on Pinterest. What happened? How could the paint swatch and picture be so different, and which one do you trust?
First and foremost, trust the color swatch. Paint companies go to great measures to make sure their swatches match the paint they send out the door. Second, if you prefer the color reflected in your picture, have the paint store’s color consultant look for a shade that matches it. Most have thousands of colors at their finger tips and it will take them a but few short minutes to find a color that resembles what’s featured in your photo.
But, isn’t the real question why the color swatch is so “off” from your magazine or online picture in the first place? Actually, we should be more surprised if they actually do match. The processes utilized to produce the colors we view in a magazine, online or by color swatch are very different, making the end result vastly unpredictable. Let me explain.
Computer monitors, televisions and digital cameras create their images by means of a 3 color process called RGB. This means that every colorful photo on Pinterest (or anywhere else online) is produced by some combination of red, green and blue only. Quite impressive, don’t you think? Newspapers and magazines have a four-color process by which they print their materials called CMYK. C is cyan, a greenish blue. M is magenta, a purplish red. Y is yellow and K is key, or black. As you can see, there really isn’t a correlation between the RGB or CMYK system. Each uses a different collection of shades to produce the colors we see online and in print, thus the images produced by each will certainly vary. To make matters even more complicated, a digital photo created by the three RGB shades must be converted to the four CYMK shades in order to be printed. My bet is that you’re beginning to understand why what we see in a magazine or online is very likely not a true representation of what the colors actually look like.
Actual paint colors are created by a colorant system unlike the limited process afforded to digital and printed materials. In order to create a great range of colors with the depth and richness you’ve come to admire from Benjamin Moore, it takes no less than 13 different colorants to create the variety of colors you see displayed in their chip rack. In fact, Benjamin Moore custom created their water based colorants to ensure the range of colors they produce are unlike those you’ll find elsewhere. For example, there are no fewer than three different yellows and reds along with magenta, blue, green, orange, black, grey and white that give their paint colors the beauty and complexity we all love. Most require no more than seven colorants, but that’s a great deal more than the RGB or CMYK process utilize. In order to present the truest color possible, Benjamin Moore has started producing some of their color chips with actual paint. Imagine trying to convey an accurate representation of a paint color with three (RGB) or four (CMYK) shades alone. It seems virtually impossible; which is why anything you see online or in printed form is just a representation of the true color.
The moral of the story is… after finding a color you love online or in printed form, ALWAYS look at the actual paint chip. If you prefer the picture to the chip, look for the closest color to what you’re truly seeing in the medium your picture if presented in. And if all else fails, ask for the help of your paint store’s color consultant. They are well-trained in the use of color and can be a valuable resource for creating the home of your dreams.