Please correct me if I'm misunderstanding anything here -

I think I understand that a hex value of #AE0000 is meaningless without knowing what colour space it refers to.

If I write that in CSS as a background colour, and view it in a browser what colour space will it refer to?

Will it refer to my monitor's colour space? Will it use the sRGB colour space?

up vote 4 down vote accepted

We dont know. The browser should act as if the image and color info was sRGB and convert it accordingly, alternatively if you have a image with a embedded a profile it should work on that. However there is no guarantee the browser does that. Some browsers do some do not (and what intent does it use?). Also, most systems aren't calibrated or even capable of displaying sRGB so the entire thing is a bit complicated.

To put this simply: Assuming the system is using and converting sRGB to whatever is the best and only bet you can take. Since its the only option in town you will take it.

sRGB is the standard for Internet-based systems.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SRGB#Usage

The color values provided by the web browser are then sent to the operating system.

From there, any color profile in use is read and then applied by the graphics card, so the values are then sent to the monitor.


Update.

This does not mean that you will get the same color on different scenarios.

There are different vendors, different quality controls, etc. sRGB is meant to be a generic standard.

Colors might be different even on the same monitor on the same computer. Calibration is needed to update the color profiles accordingly to the viewing conditions. Even the calibration tools need to be calibrated.

But that is another issue. There are web browsers for monochromatic displays or even for blind people, so of course, there are ranges of implementations.

  • In the real world, this translates into uncalibrated sRGB. Almost nobody calibrates their monitor, so the color displayed is a mass-produced approximation to what sRGB calls for. – Mark Sep 20 at 19:43
  • But that is another issue. – Rafael Sep 20 at 20:39
  • Two monitors by two different manufacturers on the same Mac / PC can look different out of the box viewing the same website. Welcome to our world. In practice, I don't calibrate any more since I stopped working in print, however, I set a standard I can live with on my best Mac / monitor compare this to what my coding partners are seeing under Windows, adjust and then match my other hardware to this, so at least I have consistency across my work environment - graphic design / brand / illustration / web and app design through to their internal fulfilment. – Applefanboy Sep 21 at 8:43
  • Colors might be different even on the same monitor on the same computer. Calibration is needed to update the color profiles accordingly to the viewing conditions. Again that is another issue. The user is asking about the color profile on web browsers... of course, there are also web browsers for monochromatic displays or even for blind people, so of course there are ranges of implementations, quality controls, etc. – Rafael Sep 21 at 17:18

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