ASTM E2970 - 15

    Standard Practice for Specifying Color by the Natural Colour System (NCS)

    Active Standard ASTM E2970 | Developed by Subcommittee: E12.07

    Book of Standards Volume: 06.01


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    Significance and Use

    5.1 The Natural Colour System is a color notation system that builds on how a human being sees color. An NCS notation represents a specific color percept and describes the color as perceived; it is not dependent on limitations caused by pigments, light rays or nerve signals that have given rise to this perception. The NCS system is used internationally in such fields as architecture, corporate identity, cosmetics, education, fashion and textile forecasting and production, interior design and product design. The Natural Colour System describes colors exactly as they are seen. Any of the millions of colors that exist can be defined within the NCS system and given a precise notation. When the NCS system is known, it is possible to judge the attributes of a color by its NCS notation; for example, how much blackness, how much chromaticness, and what hue? This helps to communicate and check specifications and to identify colors. Some examples of the use of NCS are: (1) Architects and designers use the NCS color samples to select colors for all kind of products and materials; (2) They also use the NCS notation to analyze the colors in use in a particular area and to document their specifications; (3) Companies use the NCS color samples as the production standards for their products; (4) Paint manufacturers and other industries use the NCS notation and the NCS color samples to visualize the color of their products to customers, and (5) Companies use the NCS samples as high quality color standards in corporate identity programs and manuals.

    1. Scope

    1.1 The Natural Colour System (NCS) (see 1.7) provides a color notation system that can be used to communicate color. This practice introduces the Natural Colour System, its terminology, and conversion to and from CIE tristimulus values.

    1.2 The system described in this standard includes color percepts that appear to belong to the surface of a material, provided the surface is not perceived to be fluorescent or to exhibit directional color effects.

    1.3 The system does not include colors that appear to belong to translucent or luminescent objects (so-called volume colors and luminous colors), nor does it include other visual properties of the surface layer, such as gloss and texture. An NCS notation does not describe the physical or chemical properties of an object.

    1.4 This practice also specifies the conditions for visual or instrumental determination of the NCS notation of a color sample, defines the relationships between psychometrically determined NCS notations and the corresponding CIE color coordinates which are to be used in this context.

    1.5 For the accuracy requirements associated with NCS standards and NCS color samples, the user is referred to Swedish Standard SS 19104. The colored illustrations in this standard shall not be used as standard color samples in any way. Color illustrations that are shown on screen or in printouts may be significantly different than the original NCS color samples with the same NCS Notation due to limited color reproduction capabilities in screens and printers.

    1.6 The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as standard. No other units of measurement are included in this standard.

    1.7 Acknowledgement—NCS, Natural Colour System is a trademark of the NCS Colour AB Stockholm, Sweden and is protected by copyright (www.ncscolour.com). All rights reserved. Original NCS color samples are only available form NCS Colour AB or any authorized NCS distributor. Commercial use of the NCS System requires a license from NCS Colour AB.

    1.8 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.


    2. Referenced Documents (purchase separately) The documents listed below are referenced within the subject standard but are not provided as part of the standard.

    ASTM Standards

    E284 Terminology of Appearance

    E308 Practice for Computing the Colors of Objects by Using the CIE System

    E1164 Practice for Obtaining Spectrometric Data for Object-Color Evaluation


    ICS Code

    ICS Number Code 17.180.20 (Colours and measurement of light)

    UNSPSC Code

    UNSPSC Code


    Referencing This Standard
    Link Here
    Link to Active (This link will always route to the current Active version of the standard.)

    DOI: 10.1520/E2970-15

    Citation Format

    ASTM E2970-15, Standard Practice for Specifying Color by the Natural Colour System (NCS), ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2015, www.astm.org

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