Colour Notation: the Key to Describing Colour

Considering we can see approximately 10 million colours but only have eleven non- ambiguous names for them – white, black, grey, yellow, red, blue, green, brown, pink, orange and purple, it’s obvious we need a system to accurately describe what we see. Systems such as the German Ral, American Pantone and British Standard (BS) are all widely used to specify colour but the Scandinavian system NCS (Natural Colour System) I find the most logical  by far. When looking at an NCS notation, you can actually visualise the colour (without a key or fan), a very useful trick which I have not come across in any other system.

I’m looking for a blue that reminds me of this magnificent blue sky – a colour I found quickly in the NCS fan because I knew it was a blue with a touch of red (ie purplish blue) rather than a blue heading towards green.

S2060-R80B fits the bill perfectly. I shall briefly explain this notation to you.  “2060” refers to the nuance. The “20” tells me there is 20% blackness (perceived amount of blackness relative to pure black), the “60” tells me there is 60% chromaticness (saturation of hue). R80B tells me the degree of resemblance between red (R) and blue (B) in my colour. I can see that it’s red with 80% blueness and 20% redness.

NCS also have a fantastic colour picking tool which is free to download – one word of warning though – as it includes an excellent space to create palettes you may find that’s your day gone….