[thelist] color conversion: websafe, web-smart, unsafe

Julian Rickards julian.rickards at gmail.com
Thu Nov 30 09:34:14 CST 2006

It certainly is an interesting tool but I don't know that there is really
any value to the websmart colours and I challenge the term webunsafe. If you
move the mouse pointer around, you will notice that web smart uses triplet
pairs for colour codes as in #112233 or #aabbcc. This simplifies CSS because
you can reduce these colours to #123 or #abc but other than that, there is
no significant value to websmart as I see it. Webunsafe colours simply
refers to the full gamut of 24-bit colours and these days, most monitors
display 24-bit colour so there is, again as I see it, no need to shy away
from 24-bit colours unless you know that your audience does not support
24-bit colour display.

The tool is similar to HSV colour selection tools but is missing one of the
components. HSV is Hue Saturation Value (also described as HSL, Hue
Saturation Lightness/Luminance). Hue is the circle of colours, Saturation is
the purity of the colour, a colour with no saturation is grey.
Lightness/luminance is the amount of black or white added to the colour. In
order to display all three components independent, you need three dimensions
or at least three tools. Moving around the wheel allows you to select the
Hue, moving from the outer edge to the centre of the wheel allows you to
select Saturation and generally, a slider allows you to select
Lightness/Luminance. This tool does not allow all three and attempts to plot
all three in one wheel but that is not possible because moving from white on
the outside to black in the centre allows you to choose Luminance but not

Did you know that CSS3 supports the HSV colour model for specifying colours?
This is a very interesting concept. For example, if you design a 5-colour
scheme based on a single hue (for example red) but with different saturation
and/or luminance values, the CSS rules would each have the same hue value
but different SL values. Furthermore, if you wish to change the scheme so
that it was based on green, or blue or purple, all you need do is change the
hue values and you have quickly changed your scheme. Another approach would
be to have 5 different hues but with identical S and L values: to change the
scheme, simply change all the S or the L values.

Class dismissed!

(Sorry people, couldn't help but comment. If I am wrong in any of these
please correct me.)


On 30/11/06, Barney Carroll <barney at textmatters.com> wrote:
> Is there an innate logic behind these workings or is it all based on
> testing?

Website: http://jrickards.ca
Blog: http://pen-and-ink.ca
E-mail: julian dot rickards at gmail dot com

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