Designer Input - A Message from Zslane
I just want to add some clarity for the folks who’ve received their Rocketeers and have questions about the final look.
The subject of color production in manufacturing is a tricky one, especially as it pertains to "matching" a pre-visualization. The Mercury Rocketeer features three shades of green, and in all three cases, the exact choice of color was restricted by what the manufacturing partners could be enjoined to produce for us.
The Final Look
I'm sure the biggest question on everyone's mind is, why doesn't the final product look exactly like the renders? Rephrasing the question as, "Why don't the renders look more like the final product?", helps reframe the subject in a way that hints at the problem. Pre-visualizing a product that does not yet exist, and for which there is no way to anticipate all the manufacturing challenges that lie ahead of it, is always a mixture of "artist conceptualization" with a dash of wishful thinking.
Take keycaps for instance. There are no official RGB values for Signature Plastic's colors (they don't even have them themselves), and so I base my keycap renders on RGB values derived from photographs of their color chips which I found online, and which were supposedly color calibrated to somebody's idea of "accuracy". These values are little more than reasonable guesses, but I feel they suffice for getting the critical character of a keycap set across accurately enough.
Then there's the outer case. The RGB value I chose for the outer case renders was, at best, a general target for what the physical product color would hopefully be. But not knowing ahead of time that I would be asked to select a Pantone color, I simply picked RGB values I liked, and which I hoped we'd be able to get close to in production.
For the keycaps, I chose the existing green colors VAF and VCO from Signature Plastics' ABS color swatches. I deemed these to be the closest to what I wanted for the keyboard given that we were not going to request custom colors to be mixed for us due to the added expense that would entail.
When it came time to select the paint color for the outer case--long after the run was over and just before the cases were about to go into actual production--I was asked to pick a Pantone color code that best represented what I had in mind for the product. None of the Pantone colors were exactly what I wanted, but I chose what I felt was the best compromise between the hue, saturation, and brightness levels of the colors available to me. While the color I chose is perhaps a bit lighter than what we might consider "perfect," I nevertheless judged it superior to the next best choice, which would have been too dark and saturated, too blue, or both.
Lighting & Rendering
And then there's the issue of the lighting setup used in the rendering application. Do I light my renders with the CG equivalent to incandescent lighting, natural lighting, or fluorescent lighting? I chose to go with a lighting setup akin to a reasonably neutral studio lighting environment. But that won't look the same as, say, a room lit by ambient natural light (at some arbitrary time of day).
But even with highly accurate RGB values and perfect lighting setup (whatever that might be), there are a whole host of other reasons why an image rendered from my computer will look different to each and every person who sees it on a monitor other than mine. Differences in monitor LEDs, differences in monitor settings and calibration presets (if applied), not to mention the impact of the lighting in the viewer's room and the differences in how each person perceives color, all play a major role in guaranteeing that no two people see the same rendered (or photographed/scanned) image the same way.
This is the nature of pre-visualizing with CGI. What we get is a usually a reasonable, but far from perfect (or perfectly accurate), representation of what the final physical product will look like.
We appreciate you taking the time to read this. We hope to provide additional clarity on these processes moving forward. In addition, we will be more vigilant with informing the community when a project is utilizing renders in place of production units for the product page.
Zslane (John R Cooper)