Notes on Color #4: HSY

Previously I discussed why HSV and HSL are bad, despite that they are quite popular adopted by digital painting tools.

I learnd about HSY from Krita, which seems to solve a number of issues. Here I did some quick explorations in order to learn more about it's properties.

First of all, HSY is very similar to other HS* family members. The definition of H and S should be the same as in HSL. Y is for Luma, which is a weighted sum of (gamma-corrected) all three components. The weights reflect our brightness sensitivity of different wavelengths. The specific values depend on the actual primary colors.

Here's a HSY disk at Y=0.5, for sRGB.

HCY disk with Y=0.5

Comparing with HSV or HSL disk, this one looks smoother, and a bit "muddy" near the center. This means the Y value does predicts the actual luminance well. The gray version (converted via CIELAB) may verify this observation:
L(CIELAB) channel of the HCY disk.

So there is a huge improvement over other HS* models. It seems good enough for digital painting, right? Well, yes and no. I mean no.

The Two Lies

Well the "huge improment" part is true, but there are two lies above.

First of all, notice the "HCY" in the captions,  that was a not a typo. The distance to the center represents chroma rather than saturation.

Second, you may notice some lighter areas in the grey version, near the purple area and green area. That is not an illusion.

This changes the story entirely. Allow me to reveal the imperfect truth.

sRGB colors in the HCY disk where Y=0.5.
This weird shape represents all sRGB colors on the disk. At first I was quite sure that something is wrong in my code. Later I realized that if (r, g, b) has a luma of 0.5, then so does (1-r, 1-g, 1-b) , provided that the sum of the component weights is 1.

In the previous colorful version, the out-of-gamut colors were capped, therefore not accurate.

This weird shape is problematic, somtimes it is no longer possible to mix two colors by picking a point on the line segment. On the other hand, in Krita we do have a full-circle version:

HSY disk in Krita, with Y near 0.5

It appears more "muddy" here. If you examine the colors near the border, red-ish and blue-ish areas look fine, but other parts look gray-ish. 

In fact this version is obatained by stretching the HCY disk. Each radius is stretched to [0, 1] independently. This way the grey-ish area at the center appears much bigger than it is.

Personally I don't think this transformation makes much sense. Now the saturation value depends on both hue and brightness, so two saturation values are not really comparable. I think we should instead accept something like, the most "colorful yellow" is always brighter than the most "colorful blue"  (within a  (usual) RGB model). Therefore we should always be careful when shifting hues for high-chroma colors.

No comments: