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Cover image for Show DEV: colorSpace - smart background removal with canvas 🖼️
Samarth Jajoo
Samarth Jajoo

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Show DEV: colorSpace - smart background removal with canvas 🖼️

Hey all you DEVs!

Just a couple weeks ago, I built colorSpace in a few hours - It was a fun idea I wanted to explore, not even being sure if it was possible at all!

Demo gif

It turned out to be possible, and actually even accurate!

My idea was pretty straightforward - usually, an image with a background has one dominant color to remove. Because of shadows and lighting angles - this color won't remain the exact same across all its pixels, but maybe it'd be possible to measure color similarity somehow 🤔

I googled it - and saw a few stack overflow posts asking the same question, and learned that it was fairly trivial to get the euclidian distance between colors, since they're usually represented in a three axis system eg. R, G, B H, S, L
Y, I, Q - there are some more listed here

That means we can use the distance formula, representing a color as a co-ordinate in the x, y and z axes (I had to google axis plural 😂)

An image of a 3D co-ordinate system

From Brilliant

It comes down add up the squared difference, and finding its square root, i.e:

Image of the 3D distance formula

It'd be pretty simple to do this with RGB colors - but the RGB colorspace wasn't designed keeping the ΔE - or distance function in mind. This means that the euclidian distance between colors in the RGB space will not always correspond to the difference us humans see between the colors.

I DIDN'T give up yet though 😅 Turns out CIE (the W3C of the color world) designed the L*a*b colorspace to be perceptually uniform with human color vision - which means, an accurate and useful ΔE function 🚀

Front view of the CIELAB colorspace

This is what the L*a*b colorspace looks like from the front

From here, it was just a bit of plug and play into JS! I reused the frontend from Santafy - a fun christmas project I'd built 🎅

I found the rgb-lab library which let me convert RGB to LAB, and back. I could also use the ΔE function right within this library!

The color-sampler library needed me to add jquery to the project, but I have no complaints - it works very well, and has a nice UI for color selection 👇

color-sampler demo

To summarize the code I wrote - It takes an image from visitors, and loads it up into a canvas. From there, a pixel is selected using the color sampler - and all pixels in the canvas are converted to the L*a*b colorspace, and compared to the selected pixel with the ΔE function - if any pixel's color falls within the treshold, the transparency for it is set to 100%

And all that happens in the canvas, completely on the frontend!

If you haven't already, you can try colorSpace here!

The code is fully open source, you can check it out and instantly fork it on this repl 👨‍💻

That's it - I'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback 😄

I'm a 15 year old maker 👨‍💻 For more cool things to make and to stay updated with my progress, sign up for my newsletter 📧

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