What makes color matching tricky?
Visual color matching – against a color card, for instance – is easy, but it’s imprecise. Individuals both see and describe colors differently. Some people may perceive color variations that others miss, even if lighting conditions are the same. And physical characteristics of an object like gloss, shape and texture also affect the way we see and describe their colors.
Uniformity is always associated with high quality, but different industries and products may consider different amounts of variation acceptable. Color variation that’s acceptable in a child’s toy, for instance, might be completely unacceptable in the paint for a high-end automobile, in luxury goods such as leather handbags or for designer brands.
Here are some things to consider when determining your own Delta E tolerances:
- The quality demands of your customers
- Agreement with visual assessment
- The DE* calculation to be used. We recommend CIEDE2000 or CMC.
- One size does not fit all. White and pastel colors may have different perceptibility/acceptability versus deep and high chroma colors
- The color accuracy of competing products
- Your time constraints. If you set strict tolerance standards, does your team have the time and resources to ensure your products meet those standards and maintain production throughput?
- The cost/benefit ratio of improved color matching. The right tools are an investment, but they’ll help you achieve more first-shot matches and over time save you money
Why does it matter?
If your product colors are inconsistent, consumers see your brand as inferior or your products as cheap. If quality matters to you and your customers, you need to find a way to accurately replicate product colors.
Since we see colors differently, and one person may see a perfect match where another sees variation, it’s important to be able to standardize descriptions of color. Even face-to-face, but certainly when communicating with global vendors, distributors and customers, a misunderstanding about color can lead to delays, manufacturing errors and other costly problems.
Today’s color management solutions
Tools are now available to help designers and manufacturers accurately measure, display, and analyze color. Broadly, these tools include both hardware and software components. The hardware is used for measurement, and can be either stationary or portable. The software provides a visual display of the measured data, thus facilitating color communication.
Mathematical color models, CIELAB being the most widely used, provide an objective construct to more accurately describe colors, but the subjective requirements of a particular industry or product must also be considered.
The right color management solution will be intuitive to use, and can be tailored to your company’s specific requirements. Improvements in accuracy and efficiency make such solutions cost-effective to deploy.
For more details on the hardware and software considerations when implementing a new color management solution, download our Director’s Brief Here.
You can also send us a message to discuss what a scientific color management system comprises, and how Datacolor can help your business.