How to measure real colour levels and their importance

With the increasing diversity of products, product recognition is becoming more important. Along with product design, color is one of the major factors in creating a product image. It has a great effect on market appeal and sales.

The average consumer will not accept the color ranges that were the industry standard ten years ago. They are always searching for a better product – one that gives them the desired properties with a minimum of variation. Because of these requirements, companies are becoming increasingly concerned about color.

The Definition of Color and the Basics of Color Systems

Webster defines color as “a phenomenon of light or visual perception that enables one to differentiate otherwise identical objects”. While the role of light in color development can be discussed in very scientific terms, the idea of “visual perception” can be very vague and very opinionated. For this reason, it is difficult for people to discuss and agree on color. A basic understanding of the components of a color system might help to clarify these communication problems.

There are three components necessary for the perception of color. They are LIGHT, OBJECT, and OBSERVER

  • Light supplies all the spectral energy. Without a light source, there is no perception ofcolor.
  • The object reflects or absorbs the spectral energy from the light source. Each object has its own reflectance pattern. For example, a red object reflects and absorbs light differently than a green one.
  • Finally, without an observer, no color can be perceived. The defining characteristics of color cannot be formed until they are in the mind of the observer.

What conditions affect how a color looks? 

Our individual perception of color is influenced by many factors.

  • Light sources – affects sunlight, fluorescent, tungsten, etc.;
  • Observer differences – affects sensitivity, vision, age, colorblindness, eye shape;
  • Size differences – affects colors covering larger areas appear brighter and more vivid;
  • Background differences – affects contrast to background may brighten or dull object;
  • Directional differences – affects angle of observer can appear to change color.

Even if brain is very good at detecting color, it is not very good at remembering or comparing color. Our eyes  deal with an infinite variety of colors every day, but verbal expression of color is difficult and often confusing.

What are the main color properties?

There are also some properties of the color itself that we must understand for accurate color measurement and expression. These properties are HUE, LIGHTNESS and SATURATION.

  • Hue is commonly related to the tint of an object. It is the quality that lets us describe a color as red, yellow, blue, green, etc. It is how we think of colors in everyday language.
  • Lightness is the term used for the brightness or darkness of a particular hue. It is a separate and identifiable factor and can be measured independently of hue. Colors can be separated into light and dark categories when their lightness measurements are compared.
  • Saturation is the term used to describe the vividness or dullness of a particular hue. Technically it is the difference in saturation between the color in question and a gray of the exact same lightness. We tend to think of this attribute in everyday language as “how much color is present”.

Considering all the previous factors explains why verbal expres- sion of color is complicated and difficult. Color is a matter of per- ception and individual interpretation. To overcome these prob- lems, various systems have been developed in the past in an attempt to quantify color and express it numerically. The first of these was the Munsell System developed in 1905 by an Ameri- can artist, A. H. Munsell. His method utilized a large number of paper color chips of various hues, lightness, and saturations. A specimen color was visually compared to these standards, and the color was described in terms of the standards. This method was later updated to give the current Munsell System, where any given color is expressed as a letter/number combination after a visual comparison using the Munsell Color Charts.

What is a spectrophotometer?

The spectrophotometer is an instrument which measures the amount of light of a specificed wavelength which passes through a medium.

We recommend you a modern spectrophotometer like the CM-700d which effectively measures the color of an object using a range of user-friendly functions. The handheld instrument is ergonomically designed to fit your hand comfortably and features a color LCD screen. Abundant information is displayed on the screen such as spectral graphs, pseudocolor, and color difference graphs.

Measured colors can also be reproduced as color patches on the screen. This is useful in for checking the level of color difference or to search for colors.

This instrument is portable and Bluetooth compatible, so all information can be communicated wirelessly to a PC or printer. The unit also contains a large memory capacity, which has the ability to store 1,000 sets of target data and 4,000 sets of measurement data.

Using such a device makes your work easy and you have great results for your products in finding the best colour.


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