Posted on September 22, 2017
Today’s artificial plants look nothing like the dull silk flowers you might remember from the 1970s. Modern faux plants can now mimic just about any species in great detail, from every small notch of wood on the trunk of a miniature bonsai to the cream-colored thorns on a cactus. Because artificial plants are easier to care for than real plants and add liveliness to any room, more people than ever are choosing to buy these highly-realistic faux plants. However, making these plants look realistic can be a challenge, especially when choosing the perfect colors for your product.
Color quality control for artificial plants is absolutely essential. While the shape of the plant and the material it’s made from can also impact its overall appearance, it’s the color that will make or break the product. Using a spectrophotometer, you can ensure that your artificial plants look nearly identical to the real thing and attract more customers in the process.
Color is the Most Important Factor
Even when you perfectly mimic the size and texture of the plant, from the unique leaf shape to the roughness of the stem, if the color is off by even a few shades, your plant will look unrealistic. That’s because your customers are used to seeing live plants in nature and they’ve become accustomed to these natural hues. A synthetic green pigment that’s too vibrant or saturated won’t be aesthetically pleasing to discerning customers.
This is similar to the “uncanny valley” concept in robotics manufacturing.1 According to the uncanny valley hypothesis, some people feel uneasy when they see an artificial replica of a living organism. Generally, an artificial object either has to look nothing like the living organism or has to look nearly identical in order to be visually appealing. If an artificial plant falls somewhere in the middle (not 100 percent realistic, but not completely unrealistic either), then customers could find its appearance off-putting. This means that when you make an artificial plant, your colors have to be a near-perfect match for that plant species.
How to Make a Realistic Shade
In order to create the most realistic plants, you’ll need to trick the human eye by using clever shading and color quality control mechanisms. The most successful artificial plant manufacturers include imperfections in their final product in order to make their plants appear more lifelike, as most plants in nature have some torn leaves or uneven stems 2. You can also apply this concept to the colors you use, both for plastics and for fabrics.
Rather than choosing one solid color for the entire plant, you can instead use a few colors that bleed together in different places on the plant. If you look closely at a living plant, you’ll see that the leaves often look like one solid shade of green from a distance, but up close, they actually have some lighter and darker shades scattered along the edges or where the leaf meets the stem. To make your plants look as real as possible, you’ll need to identify all of these subtle changes in color, and replicate them using artificial pigments.
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