FAQ ID # 162
How Computers See Colors in Graphics
Last Update : 2008/05/21
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Question / Issue
Why does Buzz-2-Stitches think my graphic has so many colors? It looks like only four to me.

Answer / Solution

Even though a graphics file looks like it has only a few colors in it, you might have a lot more colors as far as your computer is concerned. One of our customers hand colored a design using 4 magic markers and scanned it into her computer. When opened in a graphics program, that image contained over 300 individual colors.

If you look at the capture below, you can see the many shades of colors in this example. Buzz-2-Stitches is trying to digitize all those shades of browns and blacks etc. If you bring the picture into a graphics program and zoom in really close, you will actually see yellow and green and purples in the browns and blacks.

We brought the graphic into Microsoft Paint to try and show you what a difference a single color brown and black makes as far as the computer is concerned.

If you only want limited colors in the design, you have to change the design to look more like the edited ear shown above. We did this manually with the paintbrush in Microsoft Paint just to give you a quick idea of what we're talking about. You need to reduce the color palette in the graphic so that the graphic looks like what you want the final result to look like keeping in mind how the computer sees the graphic. When you say that the graphic only has 4 colors, that is because you are interpreting all those shades of brown to be one color. The computer is not as smart as you are to be able to make that assumption. For all it knows, the different shades are important parts of the graphic – shading or texture maybe?

There are some graphic programs out there that will allow you to reduce the number of colors in the graphic color palette. Paint Shop Pro for example will count the number of different colors and allow you to set a number of colors you want the graphic to have. It will then automatically merge like colors together based upon what IT THINKS are like colors – again the software does not know that this graphic is a dog - it’s just a bunch of colors that are next to each other. Some graphic programs show you all the colors in the current palette and allow you to combine the ones you want by dragging and dropping them on to each other. There are some free graphic programs out there (www.downloads.com) and for this type of editing, the key function would be the ability to reduce the number of colors in a graphic color palette – when asking someone about their software this statement might help them understand what you want their software to do.

Again, to reduce the number of thread colors generated, the easiest way is to reduce the number of colors in the graphic. Once the stitches have been generated by Buzz-2-Stitches, if you want to delete stitches of a particular color, select the stitches in time by clicking or click, hold dragging (or using the lasso in Space) and then hitting the delete key. When the stitches you select are in color (and the rest of the design is grayed out) this means you have a selection and you can change the color of this selection, drag it to stitch out at a new place in time or delete it.

Related FAQs
Can I use scanned pictures or drawings for input into Buzz-2-Stitches?
Buzz-2-Stitches Scanned Graphics

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