Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Digital Color Variations Are Easy

One nice thing about digital imaging is the ease with which one can create multiple color variations on images. Sometimes that can result in some pretty silly looking images, but it can be used intelligently, too. In the case of abstract images, for example, there really is no "right and wrong" when it comes to color choices. Whatever looks good looks good. Consequently, a single image can theoretically serve as the basis for dozens of different variations on that image.

The two images shown above serve as an example of how easy it is to create radically different versions of images at the click of a mouse. The color version was created first. I applied a variety of filters in order to impart a rough, "painterly" look to the image.

Then I created the "antique sepia" version below. After I converted the color image it to a monochromatic image with warm brownish tones, I applied an additional filter to slightly alter the texture of the digital "paint", which already had a simulated impasto effect on the color version.

Which one looks best? It's a subjective judgment call. It depends a great deal on the context in which the image appears.

It's always interesting to see how different colors convert to monochromatic values. Some colors derive most of their contrast with adjacent colors from the qualities of hue and saturation. Once they've been converted to monchromatic tones, some colors that started out looking quite different can look very similar to each other. Notice, for example, how the adjacent red and green colors both converted to roughly the same level of darkness when converted to monochrome. Such things can be manipulated, however, by making selections, and by using sophisticated controls such as the Channel Mixer in Photoshop.

I can easily conceive of the idea of an art show in which every image on display would be a different color variation of the same original image.

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