Task 1 – Report
Colour theory concerns the aspect of colour and how it interacts with itself. There are three things to consider when discussing colour.
- Hue – The colour itself, such as red or green
- Saturation – The vibrance or lack there of in the colour
- Lightness – The levels of black or white in the colour
At the base level, there are three primary colours; Red, Yellow and Blue. Combining two of these gives secondary colours, such as green or orange. Between primary and secondary colours are tertiary colours, for example, between yellow (a primary) and orange (a secondary) you find yellow-orange (a tertiary).
When one colour is being used it is defined as monochromatic and deals with the different shades, light to dark.
Looking at the use of colour on the web and finding examples of websites using complimentary, monochromatic and multi-coloured colour schemes.
Complimentary colours achieve what their name suggests, they are colours that compliment each other. When looking at a colour wheel, finding the complimentary colour for a selected colour involves looking at the opposite side of the wheel.
It is worth noting that there are two main systems for colour, additive and subtractive, and they do differ slightly. Traditional colour theory concerns subtractive colour, that is where the combination of colours results in the absorption (subtraction) of light. Subtractive colour is relevant to printed materials or painting. Additive colour concerns digital mediums more, where the combination of different light colours results in new colours. This also leads to different definitions for primary colours, where green is deemed as primary and not yellow. The below example highlights the difference in subtractive and additive colour, notably, the combination of all colours resulting in black for subtractive (due to all wavelengths of light being absorbed) and white for additive (due to the presence of all wavelengths of light).
To ensure that the colours seen on one’s monitor match up with the colours of printed material there are two main things that can be done.
Firstly, is to ensure that the image file is using the correct colour mode for the printer. Displays use an additive colour space (RGB) whereas printed media will be subtractive (CMYK) due to the nature of how the image is constructed. On many photo editing software packages it is possible to assign different colour profiles to the image files, such as CMYK, which will cause the screen to render the image’s colours nearer to how they will appear when printed.
Secondly, is to calibrate the display. This can be done with software and sometimes with additional hardware.. Calibration involves a few steps including adjusting the Brightness and Contrast, setting a white point and selecting gamma levels. Once the calibration has been completed a profile will be created, this can be used on the computer to direct how the display shows colours and, in some cases, used on the printer. The benefit of using the same profile for both the display and printer is that they should both produce identical colours.
It is important to note that ambient light can influence how colour is perceived when viewing both a display and printed materials. Ideally, a room will be used where the lighting can be fully controlled. This generally means having blackout curtains so daylight doesn’t interfere and using special lightbulbs with a high colour rendition index, generally outputting a colour temperature around 5000K. Additionally, the walls in the room will be painted in a neutral grey.
Colour Depth can affect file sizes, in that a greater colour depth would produce a larger file size but provide more accurate colour. A colour depth of 16 bit is generally the standard, provided a good representation of colour, using a lower depth of 8 bit for example, can be useful for simple graphics, keeping the file size smaller, but can produce artefacts, most notable in gradients where the transition because rough, with distinct jumps between shades. A colour depth of 32 bit would be used when file size is not a limitation, generally in print work.
When working with image files there are a few details that influence what format I use. As a general rule, I will begin with the highest resolution version available, which is usually a larger resolution than is required for the final product. This allows me to resize the image with less chance of quality degradation, as I am more often than not reducing the size. If I were working with an image with a lower resolution than was required and increased its size there would be pixelation evident. I tend to use a DPI of 300, as this is widely recommended for print work. A lower DPI can be used for web based work, generally 72 DPI, due to how monitors work, the benefit being that less bandwidth is used. The file format used ultimately depends on what stage of working the image I am on and the final use of the image. If I am working images I have taken using a DSLR I will start with a RAW file. This means the image contains all the data the camera captured with no compression, allowing me more options when processing the image. When working the image, I generally use a file format of PSD (Photoshop Document). This allows me to work in layers, creating changes or making additions to the image without actually altering the base image. The benefit of this is it allows me to make adjustments without having to start from the beginning each time a change is required. The final version of the image will use the JPG extension in most cases, this compresses the image while retaining most of the quality and detail, allowing a smaller file size as well as being a widely accepted file format. For certain images, mainly logos, it is beneficial to have a transparent layer, in which case I will use the PNG format as this supports transparency.
Metadata is data that provides information for other data. In the instance of a photo the metadata provides information about the photo data. Most digital cameras now include the following basic metadata:
- Camera Model
- Lens Model
- Shutter Speed
- White Balance
- Date/Time of capture
- GPS data (if camera used is GPS capable)
The benefit of having this data is that it allows you to recreate the settings used by the camera when taking other photos. For example, if you are tasked with taking some headshots of new employees for a company’s website, having access to the metadata of previous headshots used allows you to create images with a consistent aesthetic.
It is also possible to add metadata to images, such as Copyright information, author and descriptive tags. Adding the copyright information helps protect the owner of the image as the copyright information is in the actual date of the image. Adding tags or keywords to the image can help in organising and cataloguing files, allowing for them to be searched using set terms and can also improve SEO effectiveness.
For work, the hardware I use is a Macbook Pro as my computer. The reason I use a Mac rather than a Windows or Linux based computer is partly due to the fact that Apple hardware tends to be the industry standard in the digital creative field. Additionally, having used a Mac for a significant amount of time I am more used to and can work more efficiently on one.
If I am taking photographs I currently use a Canon DSLR, though this is purely as it is what is available. Canon and Nikon are the main brands when it comes to DSLRs, each have their own benefits. Generally speaking Canon cameras offer better video capabilities than the Nikon counterparts, which can be useful for work as I can use one camera to do both photography and videography. Personally, I prefer Nikon cameras, in part because I first used Nikon DSLRs so am more familiar with using one but also due to the fact that Nikon have kept the same lens mount for their DSLRs as on their SLRs. This allows the use of older lenses which are often high quality but at a fraction of the cost of modern lenses, though some features, such as autofocus, may not work.
The Adobe CC suite is the main collection of software I use at work, mainly Photoshop but occasionally Illustrator, InDesign, Lightroom and Premier Pro. I use the Adobe software as it is widely viewed as the best software for the job. Additionally, it is what I learned to use and so I am proficient in using them. There are alternatives to the Adobe softwares, for example GIMP is often viewed as a good free alternative to Photoshop, however I find it too different and would take too long to learn to use it as effectively as I can Photoshop.
At work I use a variety of file formats depending on what stage of a project I am at and the intended use of the file.
RAW – used when taking photos and first processing them. RAW is a lossless format meaning it keeps all the data the camera captures, allowing more control when editing the image.
JPG – when create final versions of images or working with stock images. JPG is a compressed image, meaning that data is stripped from the file and there is some (usually unnoticable) quality loss, meaning that file sizes are smaller and better suited for distribution. Editing certain aspects of an image, such as exposure, can produce lower quality results than if working with a RAW file.
PNG – mainly for images with transparent layers. PNGs support transparency making them ideal to use for logos when uploading them online.
PDF – used when creating documents that are to be distributed and for certain print jobs.
PSD – used when working in Photoshop. PSD is the photoshop document format and what the program uses when working in it. PSDs are not suitable for distribution as compatibility is an issue if you don’t have photoshop, however, they are ideal for working in as they are a lossless format and support layers.
Typically, when working on a design project I will be given a project brief. This will outline what the intended result is and any relevant information, such as colour schemes to use. First I will see what assets I need to complete the project, which will either be provided by the client (typically logos and copy), sourced from third parties or created by me (photographs). If I have created my own assets to use, the first step is to transfer the files from the camera to my computer, which I do by connecting the devices over USB, using my computer’s file explorer to locate the image folder on the camera and then copying the files to the relevant folder on my computer’s hard drive. Typically, I will capture photos in a RAW format, so after transferring them to my computer I open them in Photoshop. Here I can make any minor adjustments to the image in terms of exposure, white balance etc and then save it, typically as a PSD file. Often I will need to do further adjustments to the image, such as cropping the image of removing the background. Once these changes are done I will save a new version of the image as a PSD. The final step is to add the image to the project I’m working on, such as a poster, and save the finished design in the relevent format, typically JPG. At this stage the file is ready to distribute to the client.
Task 7 – Report
The main legal and ethical issues relevant to the work I do are related to copyright and permissions. Often, there is no budget available to source images for use in a project, meaning that either assets must be created by myself or that images must be found with a free license. This generally means that images with a Creative Commons license are used. However, some CC licenses aren’t suitable, such as the Noncommercial license or NoDerivs license (can’t modify the image) so preferably images with a CC0 license are used (no rights reserved) as these allow the most freedom. If I produce my own assets its generally a simpler process, as I (or my company) own the copyright for the images (unless stated otherwise in the contract). If I am taking photos of people, I generally ask them to sign a Model Release Form (I use the one provided for free by the Royal Photographic Society – here) though this is dependant on the circumstances. I only really use this if I am photographing someone for the sole purpose of using the image as an asset in a design (rather than taking photos at an event).
Sometimes the client has suitable assets for a project, in which case I would ask for permission to use them or they would state that they were to be used.
It’s important when being given assets by a client to only use them with their permission and not to use them on other projects.