Washed out color on display
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    Washed out color on display

    So I've been trying to solve this issue for some time now and I figured I would bring it here. My desktop monitor is displaying pretty poor colors. It's somewhat subtle at first but I noticed the difference when working between my brand new Dell XPS 8500 desktop (where the colors are bad) and my Samsung 7 Series Slate (where the colors seem rich). The colors seem washed out. Skin tones are the worst offenders and look pale and zombified. At first I thought it was my monitor, so I played with every setting I could access and only managed to make the problem worse, prompting a factory reset of the monitor. I borrowed my roommate's monitor but the problem persists. My original monitor was an LG LED monitor and his is an Acer LCD monitor. They are both producing the same problem, which leads me to believe it has something to do with the computer itself.

    Here is a nice picture of Gary Oldman to illustrate.

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    My tablet is at the bottom with the nice colors, while the washed out colors are on the monitor up top.

    Here is a sketch I'm working on with skin tones. Again, not how washed out the skin tones on top look, compared to the nice ones on the tablet below.

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    I have tried every setting I can think of, brightness, contrast, hue, temperature, gamma etc. etc. but I am not an expert when it comes to monitors or video cards. Does anyone have any ideas? I'm running an nVidia geForce GT 640 card on my screwy desktop. It claims my drivers are up to date. I don't know what to do here, it is very frustrating.

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    I wouldn't normally bump a topic just for attention but since the site was down for a while I figured it might be ok this time. I have tried everything I can think of, but it seems like it is not a problem with the monitor but a problem with the computer itself. I have updated my nvidia drivers and that didn't help. I have also tried a different monitor and I get the same problem. Any ideas? Anyone?

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    I would say : be sure your graphic card is correctly powered and correctly plugged into the motherboard but if you have a new computer I suppose you will not open it to test it... Are you sure the plug itself is okay ? If it's vga or dvi it happen (rarely) that one of the metal branch is bend... I'm sorry I have no other idea of why it could happen :/

    * My current blog
    * Sketchbook page on CA.org coming soon...

    Have a good and creative day !
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    Arshes Nei is offline Registered User Level 17 Gladiator: Spartacus' Dimachaeri
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    What is the color management settings for the program you are using?
    What are the color management settings for the OS you are on?

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    Is this helpful? These are what show up under the color management tabs. I'm running Windows 7. This problem doesn't seem to be program dependent, it looks this way for any program at any time.

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    Your main problem is a gamma issue. The colors are not really washed-out, that's just the colors are incorrectly balanced on your monitor to match the right color temperature (usually 6500K).
    The monitor at the top seems blueish and the screen at the bottom looks greenish, but that depends on how accurate your camera has captured what your screens were really displaying.

    Such issue can be fixed with a gamma adjustment using a color profile.
    You tried to adjust it with the tool available in Windows but this kind of visual calibration is very limited because of the human eye weakness and the pure limitation of the software as it doesn't allow complicated adjustment.
    However, it can be fixed with hardware calibrator.

    Here an example of what a calibrator can do (captured using a smartphone):
    Before calibration


    After calibration


    Well, as my previous posts were more about color management than gamma adjustment, I will use your thread to develop about that.

    Gamma Adjustment:
    Gamma adjustment is done between your graphic card and your monitor so it cannot be captured by screen capture and it concerns everything displayed on your screen (UI or images)

    First Figure:
    The calibrator measured the screen and compared it to gamma 2.2 for red, green and blue primary colors.

    1-it is the pure color (located at 255 brightness and 255 input RGB).
    For red, it is R: 255 G:0 B:0, for green it is R:0 G:255 B:0 and so on...and the combination of the primaries is the white.
    2-it shows that mainly the red and the green are lacking brightness for lighter values
    3-dark values are too bright for all the primaries colors

    Second Figure:
    It is the adjustments curve. No adjustment is equal to a straight line from 0-0 to 255-255.
    That's the same kind of curve you can find in Photoshop

    (Open an image in Photoshop and try to play with RGB components, you will be able to get the same kind of 'washed-out' colors you observed on your screen)

    1-the max amount of brightness for the pure red has been reduced. The reason is to fix the color temperature of the white. Even if the screen looks blueish, the white is more greenish/yellowish.
    2-the light values are too dark so it increases them
    3-dark values are too bright so it decreases them

    Third Figure:
    1-Again, the max amount of brightness for the pure green is reduced to fix temperature of the white.
    2-light value are a bit too dark so it increases them
    3-dark values are too bright so it decreases them

    Fourth Figure:
    1-max brightness for pure blue is preserved as a base to fix the other values to match the usual neutral white (6500K)
    2-the brightness of the blue is too high for the whole curve, so it is reduced globally

    Here the target image:


    The result of such gamma adjustments allows to change what is displayed on screen from this (it is a simulated image obtained with Photoshop adjustments curves based on calibrator results)


    to this, which is much better (click on image to compare directly with the target image)


    Color Management:
    If you compare the target image with the image showing the native screen colors calibrated, you can notice there is still some differences.
    Mainly, the blue is too bright and the whole image is under-saturated.
    The reason is because of the difference between the screen color space and image color space (sRGB).
    But these differences have been measured by the calibrator during calibration process (characterization)as it registered them in screen profile -> the screen color space. The screen color space is used only by the color management.
    So, Photoshop can compare the screen color space with the target image color space...and it boosts some colors to match the target.
    Here the RGB values displayed on screen


    And there the visual result you can see on screen


    that you can compare with the target image

    The differences are because of screen limitations as it is 4 years old laptop with a narrow color space.


    I hope you will not run away because of the long post lol

    Last edited by hecartha; January 26th, 2013 at 07:20 AM.
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    No of course not, that's part of why I brought this issue to this website. I knew you would be thorough. I'll try what you've suggested an report back. I hope it works because I bought this computer in large part for illustration and digital painting purposes, and if it isn't displaying color correctly, that is a problem.

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    Ok I've read through your posts and I have a couple of questions. What is a hardware calibrator? Is this a piece of equipment I would need to purchase or is there software I could find? How do these things work? Is there some sort of camera I point at my monitor or does it plug in somewhere on the computer?

    Are you saying this is a problem with the monitor itself? I've plugged the same monitor into other computers and it worked fine, and when I plug other functional monitors into this computer, they display the same crappy colors. It is like the PC itself is outputting the colors incorrectly. I'm sorry if you touched on that, I just don't think I've entirely wrapped my brain around this stuff yet. I just want to make sure I'm not dropping cash on fixing an issue with the monitor if it is the computer itself that is the problem.

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    Quote Originally Posted by acmoore4 View Post
    Are you saying this is a problem with the monitor itself? I've plugged the same monitor into other computers and it worked fine, and when I plug other functional monitors into this computer, they display the same crappy colors. It is like the PC itself is outputting the colors incorrectly. I'm sorry if you touched on that, I just don't think I've entirely wrapped my brain around this stuff yet. I just want to make sure I'm not dropping cash on fixing an issue with the monitor if it is the computer itself that is the problem.
    Ah, I didn't understand that from your first post even if it was implicitly suggested.

    So it is needed to eliminate any variable first.

    1-When you plugged your monitor to another computer, did you use the same monitor input than the one you use when you plug it to your desktop computer? (same HDMI or same DVI or DisplayPort). Because a monitor can store a display configuration per input.
    2-When you plugged another monitor to your computer, did you use the same graphic card output? Because Windows stores a color profile per output (and per device also) so if your problem comes from a bad color profile, it is possible it is registered to one output only.
    3-there is still the possibility that your roommate's computer came with a color profile (an option activated in Windows update can allow Windows to download manufacturer color profile) which fixed the color issue for the two monitors. Can you check the color management panel from your roommate's computer to be sure it is not using a color profile?
    Look at this panel (device panel)

    Uncheck the box in (1) so the profile in (2) is not used

    And this one

    Go to 'change system defaults', and check again the 'device' panel and repeat the operation
    4-The screenshots you posted shows your Windows user account is not using a color profile but it is possible that a color profile is registered to the 'system defaults settings' (they are used if nothing is registered per Windows user account). So can you remove any profile from this panel also?
    5-Did you change your nvidia default colors settings?
    6-When you are booting your computer, did you have the feeling the colors are bad also in the BIOS/UEFI? (well, if it uses only few colors, it will probably not be easy to notice that)
    7-Can you confirm your desktop computer is using one only GPU? I noticed some weird behaviors with computer using intel+nvidia GPU...

    Once every variables will be eliminated, we will be sure that your problem comes from a graphic card hardware failure.
    Quote Originally Posted by acmoore4 View Post
    Ok I've read through your posts and I have a couple of questions. What is a hardware calibrator? Is this a piece of equipment I would need to purchase or is there software I could find? How do these things work? Is there some sort of camera I point at my monitor or does it plug in somewhere on the computer?
    A calibrator is a device you plug into an USB port that can measure your monitor colors once placed on your screen.
    It comes with a software that allows to create a color profile which will automatically register it to your OS.
    This device is usually a colorimeter or much more expensive, a spectrophotometer.
    You can look at this video (Datacolor advertisement), this one (Spyder3 demonstration) or the videos from this page (X-Rite i1Display Pro...all of them are just examples of device and process

    Now, as you said your monitor is displaying good enough colors once plugged to your roommate's computer, there is obviously a less expensive solution to your problem especially if your problem comes from your graphic card.

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