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Jan
31
2006

The difference between color and black and white.

I recently did this poster for the Cartoon Art Museum for their upcoming Comics for Comix event. BTW It will be held on Feb 10, 2006.

I originally did the poster in Color using Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. One thing I have learned is you can’t take a color image and convert it to black and white with out taking into consideration that color value is very different then black and white value. What seems like two different colors could seem like very close variants of grey when changed. Here is an example from the poster. The sample below was converted to black and white without taking into consideration the differences.

When you’re working strictly on the computer and the image is in layers or some other form that can be changed easily, you want to edit and change the colors to appropriate black, grey and white values. Also take into consideration how the work will be reproduced. If it’s a Xerox you need it to be higher contrast. Here is the final version I did in black and white.

NOTE: It is a bit of different process when you have color images that you are not able to edit the separate areas on. That is a post for another day.

In this final version, the logo is higher contrast with the lighter areas closer to white. At least one of the text boxes has a white stroke to make it stand out. And the restaurant/food logos were edited to show up better.

Another interesting example of this idea is costumes from black and white TV shows and movies. In The Adventures of Superman, George Reeves wore the familiar uniform of the man of steel, but the traditional Blue and Red areas would ended up looking wrong on black and white film.

To explain it more – Jim Nolt writes on his George Reeves superman site,The Adventure Continues:

Superman and the Mole-Men and the first two seasons were filmed in black and white. Because there was not enough contrast between the blue and red when filmed in b&w, a brown and grey costume was used. Beginning with episode #53 “Through The Time Barrier,” the Adventures of Superman was filmed in color…

So the next time you are working on a project, take the time to adjust the black and white version to look as good as the color.

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