Monday, June 11, 2012

A very helpful colour system.

Are you familiar to the NCS  - Natural Colour System

I came into contact with this system when I worked within the interior business. I was asked to go to Oslo for a weekend to learn from, at that time, the very best man in business. His name is/was Bjørn Reinhartsen and he was the leading man in the colour department at Jotun. He was so engaged in colours and beyond inspiring to work with. Each day he came to class with his shirt pocket filled with colour samples. New ones each day.

One morning he seemed more than usual engaged. He started class by telling us about one of Norways well known paintings, he snapped the colour samples out of his pocket and said : And these are the colours used. We all recognized the colours, as any grown American probably would recognize the colours in the painting : Pilgrims Going To Church by George Henry Boughton.
 He had spent the evening in the art museum and picked the accurate colours. I will never forget that man, he made such a great impact on each one of us. What he didn't know about colours wasn't worth knowing. I had the pleasure to learn from him even one more time. Because of him I became even more interested in colours than I was before.

He thought us that the only way to excactly describe a colour is to use the NCS codes. (Or similar system codes of course) To simply say Navy blue is far from excact even though the other part understand in which direction the colour is. Well, enough of that.

What I will describe for you now is pretty much the same all over the world I think, so it might be useful in one way or other.
 First of all you need to know the the basic colours used, Yellow (Y), Red (R), Blue (B), Green (G), Black and White as in the well known colourwheel.

I find my colour samples very useful when I am about to mix a colour that most often is hard to gain. That way I don't waste as much paint and I don't need to accept a brownish hue if I aimed for, lets say, a greyish one.

It is said that the codes don't tell anything about how to mix the colours but for me they do.
A typical NCS - code looks like this : 1050-Y90R This describes the excact colour as we see it and, for me, how it's mixed.
10 means 10% blackness (black)
50 means 50 % colour ( Y90R)
Y90R is the shade, Yellow with 90% Red
 Without mentioning it directly, this means that the yellow quantity is, in this case, 10%

Within the system this colour is called yellow, that is just a system issue. All of us will call it red.
If we subtract 10% + 50% (the two sets of numbers first in the code) from 100% we will also see that this colour contains 40% whiteness. (white) To gain 100% in the first part of the code, we will always have to add a quantity of white. The two sets of numbers decides how much white we need.

Y90R is the first thing I look for, Yellow mixed with 90% red. That gives a warm red. Ready mixed it looks like the lower one in the photo. A warm and beautiful pink.

 Another example is this code : 1080-Y90R  As you see the shade is the same. The only differens is the quantity of colour and a reduse of whiteness.
Just remember to subtract the two sets of numbers from 100 to find the whiteness.

As I have told you before my enthusiasm for maths is low. My imagination though is very good, so what I do is this.
 I imagine a perfect, colourless clementine. It has 10 boats (= 100%) ( in Norwegian we call them boats) each boat represent 10%. Isn't that a great way to imagine the quantities. Well, at least it works for me. Two boats of black, one boat of white and seven boats of colour. It makes sense to me.

Awhile back I was going to mix some sand colour (beach sand) I had no idea where to start except white, but by using the code it's much easier. Code for my beach sand is : 1005-Y20R That is : one boat of black, half a boat of colour and eight and a half boats of white. See, beach sand as quick as never before.
Of course one can never do this excact, by hand, but it is much easier and a smarter way of doing it. At least for me it is, since I'm not trained in mixing colours. And, I use the codes only on the more difficult colours to mix. It also means that I can get that specific colour as many times as I want to.

Hellooooo, are you still there with me??

As if this wasn't challenging enough, give this one a try.
Yesterday I promised you a challenge and I would  love it if you'll join me.


Try to figure out what kind of colours these two are. Try to mix them if you want or describe them in terms of flowers, fruits or whatever you imagine. I will be back tomorrow with samples of my own mixing and photos from the fan.
If anyone will leave a comment telling me how you think they looks like I would love to hear from you!


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