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Color 101; X-Rite Blog
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Color 101

Color 101, Uncategorized

“Meet our Color Experts” Series… Tim Mouw

Tim Mouw is our Manager of Applications Engineering & Technical Support for the Americas. Tim is so knowledgeable about the impact of color in many industries, and his stories always intrigue us.

Tim has authored many X-Rite Pantone blogs, including:

Mouw_TimWhat is metamerism, and why should you care?

Effective ways to measure reflective surfaces

What’s sabotaging your sustainability efforts?

5 color evaluation pitfalls to avoid

Why is controlling color so hard?

We recently sat down with him to learn more about his background in color and his insights about helping our customers control it.

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Color 101

Interesting Things our Customers Measure with Spectros

Whether it’s using Munsell Color Standards or one of our many color measurement devices, X-Rite helps manufacturers around the world achieve accurate color. We talked to our support team to learn about some of the most interesting ways people have used our equipment to measure and control color. From archeologists to fur traders and gastroenterologists, here are a few of our favorites.

In 2014, the city of Los Angeles used one of our handheld spectrophotometers to help remove more than 37 million square feet of graffiti. Instead of chipping a paint sample to take to the paint supplier or warehouse, contractors measured the color of the background and used the color data to mix the perfect color to repaint the surface.

LA Graffiti

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Color 101, Color Measurement 201

It’s officially summer. Are your pants white enough?

Beginning around the 1930’s, the rules of fashion dictated no white before Memorial Day. It was a status symbol, when the wealthy left their winter garments behind and headed to the beach for the summer with their lightweight, carefree clothes.

Although the rule still loosely applies, modern day fashion is more concerned with the brightness of your whites than when you start wearing them. So how do manufacturers ensure their products are as white as they can be?

Optical brightening agents (OBAs) are chemicals that are added to everything from linen slacks and silk blouses to socks and underwear. They use the process of fluorescence to trick your eyes into believing your clothes are whiter and brighter than they actually are. To ensure your garments enhance and retain this whiter than white appearance, many laundry detergents contain optical brighteners, too.

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Color 101

What’s Sabotaging YOUR Sustainability Efforts?

Today is Earth Day. You know the buzz phrase – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – but do you know what it means for your manufacturing process?

Designed by Freepik

Designed by Freepik

Here are the top three places in a color workflow that can sabotage a company’s sustainability efforts.

  1. Not monitoring color throughout production, which leads to expensive rework and wasted raw materials.
  2. Incorrect colorant formulation. Are you using too much? Are you wasting the leftovers?
  3. Sending color samples back and forth and long approval cycles, which can have a big impact on a company’s carbon footprint.

Read the full story to learn how color management technology can help you address these crucial areas. Not only will our earth benefit from your greener manufacturing processes, but your budget will too.

Color 101

X-Rite Color Detective: The Red Ball Mystery

You’ve probably heard of popular detectives like Sherlock Holmes and high school sleuth Nancy Drew, who have gained notoriety by solving the toughest crimes. With so many color mysteries out there, we thought it was time to do some investigating of our own in the mysterious realm of color.

In our Color Detective blog series, we’ll be tackling some of the biggest mysteries in color, starting with this red ball…

Red Ball

Which isn’t actually red.

Green and blue balls

The ball on the left is not green, and the ball on the right is not blue.

The Mystery

If you’re confused, you’re not alone. Since the beginning of our color learning days, we’ve been taught to identify colors like the ones above as red, green, and blue. While this may be the case on the surface, there’s more to this color story.

The secret lies in the colorants used to manufacture each ball, and the way these colorants interact with light to send our brains a color message.

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Color 101

Do You Know How Optical Brighteners Work?

Did you know that many of the products you use every day contain optical brighteners?

Optical brightening agents are chemicals that manufacturers add to products like paper, plastics, and textiles to make them appear whiter and brighter, and to lessen the natural yellowing process that happens over time. They also add these chemicals to cleaning agents to enhance the appearance of materials – primarily textiles – after cleaning.

Often unacknowledged by the typical consumer, OBAs trick our eyes into seeing a brighter white. To understand how they work, read on. We’ll dig into light-object relationships, the primary reason behind this brighter than white phenomenon.



When viewed under normal lighting conditions, these plastic parts appear bright white, but when viewed under UV light, you can see the glowing effect of the optical brighteners that were added.

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Color 101, Color Resources and Learning

How to Talk Color with Customers and Suppliers

Which of these swatches would you call bright red?
Pantone stickers


Speaking the language of color isn’t like giving someone your phone number and expecting they’ll remember it. Our minds just don’t process color like that.

While vague color descriptions are sufficient for many people – “Turn left at the blue house” or “choose the reddest strawberries” – if you work in an industry where color is important, you need to know how to speak a much more specific color language.

How do you create a color that “pops” or “radiates?” What color is “sunshine?” Is “raspberry” red, blue, or purple? And what do you do when your customer asks for such a color?

Unfortunately this is how people communicate in the color industry all the time. When it comes to vague nuances, the chances of getting color right using verbal communication alone are very low, which leads to rework when the color isn’t right.

Don’t just shake your head and try again. Color communication doesn’t have to be so difficult. Today we’ll look at the main reasons color communication goes wrong, and some simple ways to fix it.

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Color 101

Who deserves Valentine’s Day love? You do!

Dear Manufacturers,

Valentine’s Day is a kind-hearted holiday, with everyone from spouses to grandparents to co-workers sharing their love and appreciation for each other. We’re happy to report that it might be extra profitable for you this year.

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans are opening their wallets a little wider than they did in 2015. A Consumer Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics predicts 54.8 percent of consumers will celebrate Valentine’s Day, spending an average of $146.84 on flowers, jewelry, candy, apparel and more, up from $142.31 last year. In fact, spending is expected to reach $19.7 billion, a survey high.

Here at X-Rite, we know what has to happen behind the scenes to make Valentine’s Day “appear” almost overnight in retailers around the country. In the spirit of the holiday, we’d like to share our love and appreciation for all of you hard-working manufacturers who make this holiday possible.

X-Rite celebrates Valentines Day

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Color 101, Events

What is the FOCA Seminar?

The Fundamentals of Color and Appearance – FOCA for short – is a very popular one-day seminar for anyone who deals with color. From the best way to communicate color so everyone is speaking the same language, to tips for judging the smallest color differences, you’ll learn everything you need to know to measure, view, and understand color data in any industry.

Whether you’re dealing with plastics, textiles or paints, or using dyes, inks or other colorants, the basics of color are very similar. But in color science, the basics aren’t always very easy to understand. FOCA brings all of the complicated scientific terms and color management processes into everyday language you can actually understand and use.

FOCA trainers are industry leaders who have accumulated years of hands-on practical experience and expertise in their respective fields. You may also recognize them as contributing authors for our blog.

CIELAB Exercise Chips

CIELAB Exercise Chips

Today we’ll share some of what you’ll learn if you’re lucky enough to attend one of our nationwide seminars.


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Color 101, Color Management, Color Measurement 101, Uncategorized

2015’s Top 5 Color Management Concerns

January is a popular time for “Top” lists. The Top 100 Songs. The Top 20 News Stories. The Top 50 Travel Destinations.

We’re looking back too, and blog readership is one area we find very interesting. Today we’ll share the Top 5 Posts of 2015, what we think they say about you – our blog readers – and how we plan to continue these popular conversations in 2016.

xrite; xrite pantone; x-rite; x-rite color solutions; x-rite headquarters; x-rite grand rapids

New in 2015: The X-Rite Pantone Customer Center at our corporate headquarters in Grand Rapids, Michigan is a great place to see our products in action.


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