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  #1  
Old 24th August 2013, 03:37 AM
joncr Offline
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Does Our Perception of Color Influence Our Perception of Fonts on Screen?

I've spent more time with Windows over the last month or so than I have for more than 10 years. On a variety of displays, some ordinary and some high-end, the fonts Windows (7 and 8) put on screen looked pretty ugly to me.

Yet, other people I know quite well looked at the same text on the same screens and liked it. Where I saw distortion, smearing, and spindly pixelated characters, they saw sharp, distinct, solid letters.

When I showed them examples of text in Fedora with Infinality and on Ubuntu, they saw fuzziness. I don't.

(This "Looks Great! -- Looks Awful!" dichotomy is mirrored in many forum discussions. I've seen posts from diehard XP users who turn off all antialiasing and smoothing and proudly point to screenshots that seem to me to have letters composed of tiny links of sausage .)

Sub-pixel rendering was in use in each of these cases. Since, as I understand it, sub-pixel rendering works by manipulating the colors of each pixel, I'm wondering if or how different individual perceptions of color might influence perception of text rendering using sub-pixel technques. If I see red or green or blue differently than you, will we see sub-pixel rendered text the same way?

Has anyone come across any work in this area?
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  #2  
Old 24th August 2013, 04:52 AM
ocratato Online
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Re: Does Our Perception of Color Influence Our Perception of Fonts on Screen?

After a bit of Googling I found this: http://www.w3.org/WAI/RD/2012/text-customization/p7

It would seem that the colour response of an individual's eyes will affect the apparent sharpness of the text images.

This will become irrelevant when we move to higher pixel densities - and the sooner the better, I think.
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  #3  
Old 24th August 2013, 01:09 PM
joncr Offline
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Re: Does Our Perception of Color Influence Our Perception of Fonts on Screen?

Thanks for the link. An interesting piece.

I'm not color blind and fonts on Windows do not appear to me as they appear to the color-blind author: "..a pixelleted edge with a halo around it, which produces a blur..."

What I see isn't blurry and there is no halo. There is what I call pixelation, i.e., individual pixels are visible at normal viewing distance. I can reduce that to something more acceptable by reducing the monitor's sharpness control dramatically, but that then distorts everything else on screen.

Bolded black characters, in particular, often appear smeary, by which I mean that extraneous pixels of varying shades of black extend in clumps beyond the correct edges of a characters. An analogy would be ink running on hand-penned lettering.

Something real, beyond fanboyism, accounts for reports of different perceptions of Windows and Linux font rendering.

[There's some speculation that vendors aren't in any hurry to market consumer-priced high-DPI displays. One sticking point is the need for software -- written assuming 96 DPI -- to scale up to handling something like 200DPI,and everything in between.]
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Old 24th August 2013, 04:09 PM
Gareth Jones Offline
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Re: Does Our Perception of Color Influence Our Perception of Fonts on Screen?

Quote:
Originally Posted by joncr View Post
I've spent more time with Windows over the last month or so than I have for more than 10 years. On a variety of displays, some ordinary and some high-end, the fonts Windows (7 and 8) put on screen looked pretty ugly to me.

Yet, other people I know quite well looked at the same text on the same screens and liked it. Where I saw distortion, smearing, and spindly pixelated characters, they saw sharp, distinct, solid letters.

When I showed them examples of text in Fedora with Infinality and on Ubuntu, they saw fuzziness. I don't.
I think you see similarly to me. I’ve always hated Windows font rendering compared to Linux, and Infinality is a massive improvement to me. But others disagree.

Quote:
I've seen posts from diehard XP users who turn off all antialiasing and smoothing and proudly point to screenshots that seem to me to have letters composed of tiny links of sausage .)
I know people like that…

I don’t know about colour perception, but I’d be surprised if there wasn’t an affect (amongst non–colour-blind people I mean). Also, apart from taste, and what the individual is used to, different screens have different resolutions, colour output, sub-pixel layout… And it also matters how far back from the screen you normally sit. Were the others looking over your shoulder, or sitting in your seat, for example.

EDIT: Another factor is the anti-aliasing colour-depth: FreeType uses full 256-shade per available colour channel (or grey-scale). Windows (used to?) use considerably fewer shades, e.g. four shades of grey (including black and white). I don’t know about recent versions or whether Windows applies that to sub-pixel anti-aliasing though.

But I don’t know of any formal research into all this. It must exist though.
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  #5  
Old 24th August 2013, 04:13 PM
Gareth Jones Offline
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Re: Does Our Perception of Color Influence Our Perception of Fonts on Screen?

Quote:
Originally Posted by joncr View Post
One sticking point is the need for software -- written assuming 96 DPI -- to scale up to handling something like 200DPI,and everything in between.
I believe GTK+/GNOME just added support for that upstream. Hopefully other projects are doing similar.
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  #6  
Old 24th August 2013, 05:09 PM
joncr Offline
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Re: Does Our Perception of Color Influence Our Perception of Fonts on Screen?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Jones View Post
I believe GTK+/GNOME just added support for that upstream. Hopefully other projects are doing similar.
That's good. I recently bought myself a ThinkPad W530 with a 1920x1080 15.6-inch display that works out to just about 144PDI.

I prefer Infinality, as well, on Fedora. On Ubuntu and its derivatives, I think it's not quite as good.
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