Color matching systems

Table of Contents

Color spaces and international color standards

The color model

Color shades are distinguished by their spectral composition. To define and standardize these differences, various color models have been developed.

The colors of a color model that a particular coloring process is capable of outputting are displayed in a color space. Because the coloring methods are different in the ability to output or display colors, the respective color space is different.

For the representation of the actually abstract color system, the three-dimensional form is usually chosen for the color model. Within these spatial models, the individual nuances are assigned to unique values, the color locations. The representation of all color locations of a color model forms the color body.

The color locations

The color location is a specific point in the color body that represents a single color nuance. Its position in the color space is described by means of coordinates.

To set the color location, three parameters are needed. The characteristics of the parameters are different depending on the color model. Thus, one of the color models for spatial determination uses the values ​​of brightness, saturation, and hue. Other color models use the parameters light/dark, red/green and yellow/blue.

The following three values ​​determine the position of a hue in the color space:

  1. Saturation (position on the horizontal coordinate axis)
  2. Brightness (position on the vertical coordinate axis)
  3. Color (position on the applicate axis)

The color space

In all coloring processes, inaccuracies and losses occur in the conversion and representation of the colors. Although colors may have a defined color location, they can not be reproduced with the colorants specified by the conversion process.

The representable colors form a body within the color model, which is also referred to as Gamut. This body is called color space. In the ideal case, the color space fills the entire color model. The color space of a coloring process includes all colors that can be displayed within the color model.

The representation of color spaces is often realized by abstract topographical descriptions. An alternative to this are color samples in a color catalog. However, as already mentioned, there are deficiencies in the representation of the colors due to the conversion process

Farbstandards und Farbsysteme

Standardisierung und Normierung von Farbnuancen in Wissenschaft und Industrie und Handwerk

In der heutigen Praxis ermöglichen frei erhältliche oder gegen eine Schutzgebühr käufliche Farbregister und Farbsammlungen die Kommunikation zwischen Hersteller und Kunden. Sie bestehen aus genormten Referenzfarbmustern, die Rechtsverbindlichkeit zwischen Kunden und Hersteller ermöglichen. Der Hersteller kann die Muster in Form von Materialproben produzieren, was dem Kunden einen realistischen Eindruck der Farbwirkung vermittelt, da Einflussgrößen wie die Oberflächenstruktur, die Farbtiefe oder der Glanzgrad in die Bewertung eingehen können. Andere Hersteller stellen Farbregister oder Farbsammlungen aus bedruckten oder bestrichenen Papieren zur Verfügung, deren Farbtöné nach einem Industriestandard bezeichnet sind.

In den Farbplänen, die im Store angeboten werden, sind alle aufgeführten Nuancen mit den Codes der folgenden internationalen Farbstandards versehen:

RGB Color space

RGB color spaces are used as the basis for the representation of colors with CRT and TFT displays or projectors. The color is performed through the additive mixing of three primary colors (red, green and blue).

RGB Color model

The sRGB Color space

Figure 1: The sRGB Color space with 5832 colors

HLC Color space

The more easy to read coordinates of the CIELAB color space: HLC is the short form of hue, lightness and chroma. This color notation is used in specific software and in some paint color matching systems.

LAB Color space

The HLC Color space

Figure 2: The HLC Color space 4326 colors

RAL Colors

RAL is an internationally used color matching system with several product lines: Two of the product lines are the RAL Classic system with 210 colors and the RAL Design system with 1625 colors. The numbering if the color shades in RAL Design follows the scheme based on the HLC color space.

RAL Colors

The Color space of the *RAL Classic* system with 213 colors

Figure 3: The Color space of the RAL Classic system with 213 colors

The Color space of the *RAL Design* system with 1625 colors

Figure 4: The Color space of the RAL Design system with 1625 colors

Munsell Color

The Munsell color system was created in the first decade of the 20th century is based in human visual perception. The Munsell system with its 1488 color tones is in wide use today, especially in USA and Japan.

Munsell Color

The Color space of the *Munsell Color* system with 1488 colors

Figure 5: The Color space of the Munsell Color system with 1488 colors

NCS Natural Color System

The NCS is a color model with 1952 color tones published by the Scandinavian Color Institute. It is internationally used in the corporate, manufacturing and coating sector.


The *NCS* Color space with 1952 colors

Figure 6: The NCS Color space with 1952 colors

British Standards

A set of 5 color fans, representing totally 1033 color tones, used for industrial and building purposes in the United Kingdom.

BSI Group

The Color space of the *British Standard Colours* with 479 colors

Figure 7: The Color space of the British Standard Colours with 479 colors

The Color space of the *British Standard 4800F* with 120 colors

Figure 8: The Color space of the British Standard 4800F with 120 colors

The Color space of the *British Standard 5252F* with 240 colors

Figure 9: The Color space of the British Standard 5252F with 240 colors

The Color space of the *British Standard Buildings and Decorative Paints* with 101 colors

Figure 10: The Color space of the British Standard Buildings and Decorative Paints with 101 colors

The Color space of the *British Standard Readymixed Colors* with 93 colors

Figure 11: The Color space of the British Standard Readymixed Colors with 93 colors

JPMA Standard Paint Colors

Standard colors fan of the Japan Paint Manufacturers Association representing 656 color tones and therefor widely used in Japan.

Japan Paint Manufacturers Association

The Color space of *JPMA Standard Paint Colors* with 656 colors

Figure 12: The Color space of JPMA Standard Paint Colors with 656 colors

CBCC China Building Color Card

The color card of the building trades with 1026 color tones. It is the standard tool of architecture colors register, communication, and management in China. The color naming takes place in hue, value and chroma and is somewhat cryptic. However, in addition, all listed shades are consecutively numbered. That greatly simplifies the work with the China building color card.

CBCC China Building Color Card

Color space of the *China Building Color Card* with 1026 colors

Figure 13: Color space of the China Building Color Card with 1026 colors

Author: Paul Zoller,


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