Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Dithering demystified

A lot of people have asked me to explain what dithering is. I figure the best explanation is in pictures, but let me first tell you what it is. Dithering is a method of dispersing color to create a blending effect. There are numerous different dithering methods and most cross stitch programs vary in methods. I have a couple of different ones, but the one I use the most, Hobby Ware's Pattern Maker, uses three, two of which are very similar, so we'll skip the third.

I've picked a rather extreme example of a picture to test, but I did so for a reason because it gives a good example of color changes. First off, an example of no dithering:
Granted, it seems a bit severe blocked off, it's why I picked this corner of this particular picture, but if I'm working an enormous BAP, I'd much rather stitch blocks of color than one of the below options.

Here's the method that I've noticed seems to be closest to the method that HAED is now using, even though it's a bit more extreme, my software calls it Stucki:
This is the horror that I'm experiencing with Maleficent, all the checkerboard spotting. Plus, even from far off, the lighter separations amidst the darker ones show up making the project look like stitching. I personally prefer my stitching to look like art from afar when I'm finished, it's why I work in 28ct, but again, it is a matter of choice. This just isn't my choice.

And here is the one that seems to be closest to another company's dithering called Floyd Steinberg:
3-Floyd Steinberg
The way these are "lined up" drives me absolutely insane! If HAED was using this method, I'd definitely be done with them. This method makes absolutely no sense to me. It looks so unnatural and it would be horrible to stitch (at least, again, in my opinion). For some reason, it reminds me of a pattern on a pair of blue jeans.

Hopefully that helps. Granted, Stucki gives you a degree of difficulty with all the counting and skipping spaces, but difficult isn't my goal with stitching. It's a distraction, it's therapy, it's fun, and most of all, for me it's art. Not including the Asperger's, OCD, and myriad of other issues I have that heighten my emotions, I am also a former artist. Artists are probably the most passionate people on the planet. And as a former art major, if I know nothing else, I know that art is a VERY personal thing, so it makes sense I would feel so strongly about it. But, for the sake of a great pattern, aka Maleficent, I'm trying to overcome, or at least mollify, my passions against dithering. I guess you could say I'm at least trying, albeit temporarily!


Justine said...

Thanks for that post! It makes a lot more sense now. Stitching should be a pleasure and personally I would only enjoy stitching the top one of those pictures. Here's hoping Maleficent looks great!

Annie said...

Great explanation...thanks!
I hope you can find a way to get through Maleficent. I know you really love that pattern.

Miamina said...

Great explanation! Thanks :)

You are doing so well to persevere with Maleficient.

Linda said...

Thanks for the info Keiley.


Stitching Angel said...

Thanks for telling us what you were talking about. I like the top one that is for sure. I think I did a little of the middle photo today with Rose of sharon. it even looks it.

Jan Gartlan said...

This is so interesting. Thank you for explaining

Olga said...

I have noticed the same thing with some of the newer patterns and I don't know how I feel about this. I haven't stitched a newer pattern yet but it seems so unnenssasirily more difficult to stitch. I wonder why haed started using this method and I wish they wouldn't. I like the dithering to be more minor in the chart and more block like. And I completely agree with you, I'm also an artist and the stitching ends up looking like a stitched piece instead of a painting with the dithering. When do you think they started using this method because I will probably stay away from the newer patterns and check the year they were charted when buying in the future.

stitcherw said...

Thank you for the explanation, I didn't know what dithering was. I've only stitched one HAED (Literate Dragon), and I'm getting ready to start Maleficent SK, so hadn't really noticed it that type of charting. However, I've quite a few HAED in my stash, some older, some newer, I'll have to check out the newer ones I have to see it they have the dithering in them. I don't mind detail where needed, but this seems a bit unnecessary in the background like you show.