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Color Measurement 101

Color Measurement 101

Even graffiti removal needs a little color measurement

Walking through the streets of Los Angeles, it’s no secret that graffiti is a huge problem. According to LA Weekly, graffiti-removal requests have increased by 64 percent in the last five years. City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana says that by June the Board of Public Works had already recorded 141,000 requests for the 2015-16 fiscal year, compared to 86,000 in 2010-11.

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Graffiti a big problem that is continuing to grow, but color measurement solutions from X-Rite are helping.

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Color Measurement 101

Are You Using the Right Tolerancing Method?

When visually evaluating color, everyone accepts or rejects color matches based on their color perception skills. In manufacturing, this subjectivity can lead to confusion and frustration between customers, suppliers, vendors, production, and management.

Are these acceptable color differences?

Are these acceptable color differences?

This is why color measurement devices are important in so many industries. By measuring colors using a spectrophotometer, you can communicate and compare spectral data for exact results.

To aid in color decisions, color acceptability limits called tolerances can be set as guidelines for how much perceived color difference is acceptable. Tolerances are used to control color, ensure consistency within a production run, and to minimize lot-to-lot variability. But even when using spectral data and tolerances to quantify color, customers and suppliers still find themselves disagreeing.

Why does this happen?

Through the years, different numerical ordering systems have been developed. If customer and supplier are using different ones, the tolerance – and acceptable color – will be different. Today we’ll look at the most common tolerancing methods so you can be prepared, no matter which method you are expected to use.

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Color Measurement 101

Why does it take so long to produce new car colors?

Detroit recently hosted The North American International Auto Show. It’s an exciting event for consumers who want a sneak peek at what’s on the horizon in the automotive industry. Energy efficiency, new gadgets, enhanced comfort, and of course, the latest paint colors and special effect finishes.

For years, white has been the most popular car color, but more varied colors are starting to emerge. USA Today’s Chris Woodyard wrote that blue is a new color trend at this year’s auto show. It’s also rumored that automotive paint suppliers are including brighter colors in their 2019 automotive color collections.

It’s only 2016. Why such a long wait for new colors?

Believe it or not, producing a new auto color can take up to five years from inspiration to the showroom floor. It’s a long, tedious process for designers, paint companies, and auto manufacturers; but innovative color measurement technology is changing the game and speeding up time to market.

blue becomes a hot automotive color in 2016

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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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Color Measurement 101

If the pumpkin pie is green, will anyone eat it?

During this holiday season, let’s pause to do more than give thanks. Let’s also consider the role color plays on the food choices we make when we fill our Thanksgiving plates.

Traditional holiday foods like turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie always look the same… we know what to expect when we take our first bite. But what if the mashed potatoes were blue this year? Would they taste different? Would you even try them?

Green Pumpkin Pie

There’s been a lot of research about the role color plays in how we perceive and even taste food. These studies show that our judgment of flavor is most affected by the color of the food or drink. According to food expert and chemist Kantha Shelke, “We eat with our eyes before we ever smell or taste. The color cues are very important.”

Psychologically, we expect red foods to taste sweet, with flavors like strawberry or cherry. Yellow should taste sour, green tart, and except around Halloween, we won’t even try dark colors like black and purple because they make us think of spoiled food.

With the help of Good Morning America, Shelke put the power of color to the test.

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Color Measurement 101

The perfect tool for capturing color inspiration

Whether you’re choosing colors for a brand, creating palettes for a new product line, or designing seasonal packaging, inspiration is a key step in color selection.

Inspiration can come from normal, everyday places…

A party.

The grocery store.

Sporting events.

And of course, the great outdoors. Mother Nature has a knack for creating the most beautiful color palettes.


According to Lee Eiseman, Executive Director for the Pantone Color Institute®, we are starting to see strong color trends that describe our preference for natural food, drink, and being outdoors for recreation. Our color preferences for the home are often focused on comfort and ease. “As we all know, comfort can also bring about a feeling, an attachment, to what is going to make them us feel better. Color provides the means for expressing our emotions and creating a comfort level.”

Designers need to be aware of these trends in order to create color palettes that will attract consumers.

Imagine you’re charged with specifying the colors for next fall’s product line, and you’re just heading off for a week of hiking in the Adirondacks. Beautiful leaves cover the mountainsides… purples, reds and yellows. Bright mums, pumpkins and gourds in every possible shade of orange fill the small towns. Can you remember all of those colors and recreate them back in your studio?

Probably not.

Thought humans can discern over two million colors, our color memory is quite poor. When asked to recreate a color we saw even a minute ago, most of us will fail miserably.

But if you are carrying a handheld color measurement device, you won’t have this problem. Instead, you’ll be able to easily capture your inspired colors and take them back with you to the studio. Small yet mighty, spectrophotometers allow designers to harness color inspiration – anytime anywhere.

Today we’ll show you how the X-Rite CAPSURE device helps you move from inspiration to palette specification in three easy steps.

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Color Measurement 101

Additive vs. Subtractive Color Models

To understand how color management works, you need a basic knowledge of the additive and subtractive systems of color reproduction. Both use a small number of primary colors that combine to produce a large number – or gamut – of colors… but the way they do that is quite different.

In our Color Perception Part 1: The Effect of Light  post, we explained how the visible color spectrum (we know it as the rainbow) encompasses light wavelengths from approximately 380 to 720 nm. By breaking the visible spectrum into its most dominant regions of red, green, and blue, the human eye can mix these colors to create a spectrum of color.

Spectrum of Color

This is the basis behind the additive and subtractive color models, our topic for today.

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Color Measurement 101

What is a Spectrophotometer?

color's fingerprint

The spectral reflectance curve provided by a spectrophotometer is commonly known as the color’s “fingerprint”.

Spectrophotometers are color measurement devices used to capture and evaluate color. As part of a color control program, brand owners and designers use them to specify and communicate color, and manufacturers use them to monitor color accuracy throughout production. Spectrophotometers can measure just about anything, including liquids, plastics, paper, metal and fabrics, and help ensure that color remains consistent from conception to delivery.

Today we’ll look at how spectrophotometers work, how they are used, and the most common types available today.


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Color Measurement 101

Which nail polish actually matches #TheShoe?

Pantone the Shoe nail polish colors

Our friends at Pantone show the Pantone colors present in the image.

We love when color perception questions like this, and #TheDress, pop up. Color matching is something we deal with every day. We understand the challenges, and we love to explain them!

Today we’ll look at why our eyes are confused by the shoe and polish, how the experts would choose the color that matches best, and which color she should choose.

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Color Measurement 101

Using Spectros for Print, Packaging & Manufacturing

xrite exact spectrophotometer press sheet

An X-Rite eXact spectrophotometer reading color patches on a press sheet.

Your brand is your image, and accurately reproducing each color is crucial to brand integrity. But as color moves through the supply chain, among machines, printers and sites, a color can quickly shift away from its original intent.

Nobody wants rework. It’s expensive! So how do manufacturers know they’re on track?

Spectrophotometers allow brand owners to measure and specify color using a universal language—spectral values—and to share that information with their suppliers. Suppliers use spectrophotometers to monitor color accuracy during manufacturing to ensure that it remains exact.

Today we’ll look at how spectrophotometers help provide peace of mind when reproducing critical brand colors.

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