Digital To Analog Paint Matching?

Maybe I've just been living in the digital world too long, but I'd like to somehow extract a color list from these polygon-laden Google Map images, and then order paint that matches. Only I'm not finding a vast, well-developed, digital-to-analog paint matching infrastructure in place. Does anyone have any ideas?


Obviously, I can see why no one would want to match colors to a JPEG or PNG; the range, accuracy, and quality of color in the physical world significantly outstrips the digital approximations. And it's not like there's a common, systematized language of color that crosses the digital/analog border. Binhex or RGB for paint? Pantone for Photoshop?

I've been talking to several painters about this the last few weeks, and they're all for mixing my own colors, or at least having an artist mix them for me, by hand/eye. And I can respect and understand that. With mediums and grounds and consistencies and undercoats and transparency and absorption, paint turns out to be a vast, complex, multifactored thing, and I'm fascinated by how quickly these conversations of a topic I nominally thought I knew something about leave me in the dust.

But the digital essence of the original seems germane here. Although I suspect the blob in the Noordwijk image above was just cut and pasted there by the obscurer [like the Dept. of Defense HQ clearly was], the camo polygons are usually generated by software, an algorithm that carves up the underlying [sic] digital image and then reduces each component to a dominant or average [sic] color. The data aspect will have to yield to the object at some point, if only when the paint actually hits the printed photograph's surface. Since the loss of information--or its censorship, or its transformative destruction--is one of the most interesting elements of these images, I'd like to make sure I'm accounting for the changes at each step along the way as best I can.

Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

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greg [at] greg [dot ] org

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