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Understanding Color Management in Blender


Richard van der Oost writes:

At Blendergrid we occasionally get questions about color management, especially from 3D artists who use custom view transforms in their pipelines that Blender has not installed by default.

So I wanted to walk through some misconceptions and explore the topic a bit more.

While making this I realised:

  • How good the official Blender documentation actually is
  • That there are multiple image formats that completely ignore the color management settings
  • That EXR files can be saved to be smaller than PNGs in a lot of cases while saving a lot more detail!

This was from a combination of reading the documentation, and saving the Barbershop demo scene to all image formats in different view transforms.

If you check this out I hope you will learn something!

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1 Comment

  1. Nice article, Richard.
    The article doesn't delve too deep into the color management subject itself, as it doesn't really cover colorspaces, but it's still a nice introduction. Maybe in a future article you could expand that aspect, explaining Blender's default linear rec.709 colorspace and how images are transformed from/to different colorspaces using OCIO. That's one of the things people struggle the most with.

    Also I'd add for clarity that although visual differences in lossy EXR formats are negligible, it is always a good idea to stick to loseless formats for technical passes where compression artifacts may lead to undesirable results. Same goes for precision (16/32 bit). Some passes may pass (pun intended) with lower precision and even lossy compression, but some types are going to suffer. For instance, in a z-depth pass you usually want to keep it 32 bit so you have enough values to store depth.
    At any rate, some trial and error might give you an idea of what can and cannot be done with lower precision or lossy compression. It's not a one-size-fits-all solution.

    Anyway. It's a very nice introduction, short and concise. Good work!

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