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Color Measurement 101

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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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Color Measurement 101

Color Perception Part 4: Human Traits

In this series we’ve been discussing the many factors that impact how we see color, and what we can do to ensure the color we see is accurate.

Light, retinal fatigue and background effects can influence our perception of color. Today we’ll look at the limitations of the human eye and brain, and talk about how to detect these characteristics, especially for individuals responsible for evaluating and judging color.

Are YOU color deficient? Read on to find out. (Spoiler alert: There’s a test at the end. A color vision test!)

X-Rite Farnsworth-Munsell 100 Hue Test

The Farnsworth-Munsell 100 (FM 100) Hue Test, is available from X-Rite


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Color Measurement 101

Color Perception Part 3: The Tricks the Environment Plays on our Eyes

There are many things that affect our ability to see color. In some cases, it doesn’t matter if the red you see is the same shade I see. A barn is a barn, right? But for those who work in an industry where color evaluation is part of the job, it IS important… VERY important.

In our color perception series, we’re discussing the many factors that affect how we see color and what colorists can do to ensure that the color they see is the color they are supposed to see. Today we’ll take a closer look at the human eye and some of the ways our environment can influence what we see.

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