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Work with Wider Color


Work with Wider Color


Basic concepts about color

What is Color Space

A color space is a specific organization of colors. In combination with physical device profiling, it allows for reproducible representations of color, in both analog and digital representations. — Wiki

This is the standard RGB space, which is the default color space in iOS.

Color Primaries

Color primaries generally fall at the most intense value that you can get with that particular color channel.

Like, in sRGB space, the color primaries are

RGB {0.0, 0.0, 0.0} = Black
RGB {1.0, 1.0, 1.0} = White
RGB {1.0, 0.0, 0.0} = Red

Color gamut

All of the colors that can be defined as a combination of those individual color channels.

Display P3

In the above image, the colored region represents the outer limits of perception in a human’s color vision.

The inner black triangle represents sRGB’s limits of presentation.
In contrast, the DCI-P3 standard, and the Wide Color implementation, has a larger area underneath the triangle, representing the greater array of displayable color possible.

  • 16bit per color channel for P3 and beyond

Extended Range sRGB

  • Display P3
    • {1.0, 0.0, 0.0}
  • Extended Range sRGB
    • {1.358, -0.074, -0.012}

      Wider Color

Wide color displays support a P3 color space, which can produce richer, more saturated colors than sRGB. As a result, photos and videos that use wide color are more lifelike, and visual data and status indicators that use wide color are more impactful.

Color Management

Application Content Types

  • Static image resources
  • Document and network image resources
  • Advanced Media
  • GPU Textures

Framing the Color Problem

  • App Content can come in a broad range of color richness from many sources Devices and
  • Displays come in a broad range of color capabilities

How do we bridge the differences?

The answer is color management.

The job of color management is to ensure that an image looks the same on any output device no matter what color space it is encoded in.

How does it work?

  • Every image has an associated color space (color profile)
  • Color matching maps image colors to output device

  • Not for free: Every pixel needs to be color matched

  • Potentially lossy: Color fidelity is lost when output has smaller gamut. For example, going down from P3 color space to sRGB color space.

Opti in System:

  • Color matching operations are easily hardware accelerated

  • Color matching operations are easily hardware accelerated

  • Properly tagged content requires no code to display properly

Design Considerations for Wide Gamut

  • Use wide gamut content where it makes sense
  • Use where vivid colors enhance the user experience
  • No need to change all content to P3
  • Toolchain support makes gradual opt-in of wide gamut content possible

Upgrading Content to Wide Color

Be careful when promoting an existing design file to wide color!

  • Don’t “assign” P3 profile. It just remaps the existing color information into new color space. The colors are stretched, and the design file will be inevitably altered.
  • Convert to P3 instead


Color Specification

When communicating with designers, Be specific about color space!

  • Use Display P3 instead of sRGB when working with wide gamut designs

  • Use floating point for more precision

    P3 (255, 128, 191)
    P3 (1.0, 0.5, 0.75)

Drawing colors

Constructing Wide Gamut Colors

NSColor(displayP3Red: 1.0, green: 0.0, blue: 0.0, alpha: 1.0) 

UIColor(displayP3Red: 1.0, green: 0.0, blue: 0.0, alpha: 1.0)

Constructing Extended Range sRGB Colors

NSColor(red: 1.1, green: -.25, blue: 0.0, alpha: 1.0) 

UIColor(red: 1.1, green: -.25, blue: 0.0, alpha: 1.0)


Optimizing your app’s drawing for wide gamut displays

❌ Don’t use UIGraphicsBeginImageContext. It doesn’t support wider color.

The format for the bitmap is a ARGB 32-bit
integer pixel format using host-byte order

UIGraphicsBeginImageContext not only cannot create contexts with more than 8 bits per color channel, but also cannot represent colors in extended range sRGB. Sadlly, existing interface has no ability to create a context in non-sRGB color space.

So, they introduce UIGraphicsImageRenderer(size: CGSize)


let renderer = UIGraphicsImageRenderer(size: CGSize(width: 250, height: 250))
let image = renderer.image { rendererContext in
let bounds = rendererContext.format.bounds
let rects = bounds.divided(atDistance: bounds.size.width/2, from: .minXEdge)

UIColor(displayP3Red: 1.0, green: 0.0, blue: 1.0, alpha: 1.0).set()

UIColor(red: 1.0, green: 0.0, blue: 1.0, alpha: 1.0).set()
  • Fully color managed by default
  • Supports extended range sRGB color space
  • Manages CGContext lifetime


UIView, UIImageView, Color managed since iOS 9.3

draw(_ rect: CGRect) // called in the extended sRGB color space

For UIView, use the view’s layer’s contentsFormat property

Valid CALayer contents formats:

  • kCAContentsFormatRGBA8Uint
  • kCAContentsFormatRGBA16Float
  • kCAContentsFormatGray8Uint

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