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Contone vs. Halftone

We all live in an illusion (and not just the Buddhist samsara that Bruce keeps muttering about): when we see a leaf, our eye makes us think we see a continuous range of colors and tones, continuous lines, and continuous shapes. That's an illusion, because the eye simply doesn't work that way. Without going too far into visual physiology, suffice it to say that the eye works much like an incredibly high-resolution digital camera.

Rods and cones (each a distinct light sensor, like a CCD) cover the back of our eye (the retina), and convert the light that enters our eye into electrical signals. Our brain then—starting with the optic nerve—tries to make sense of all those impulses (you can think of them as zeros and ones). The end effect is that our brains fool us into thinking we're seeing a wash of colors and shapes, when in fact we're simply seeing over a hundred million pixels of information.


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