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Understanding Dithering

Dithering, which applies only to GIF images, is one of those big bugaboos that is constantly argued about on Usenet. Dithering, put simply, is a process of constructing the color for a single pixel from a combination of the colors in surrounding pixels. You may remember from school how blue and yellow, when mixed together, give you green. Color mixing is the principle behind dithering.

In practice, dithering is quite complex. There are several mathematical functions available when dithering images. One of these is known as diffusion (see Figure 42.21). Which dithering processes are available with your software depends on which program you're using. Just as you must decide in which format to save your files, you must also select which dithering process to use. I suggest experimenting with several settings to see which method best suits a particular image. In Paint Shop Pro, the dithering choice (diffusion vs. no dither-nearest color) is made when you decrease the color depth of an image.


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