Lesson 3 of 3
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NCS system

What are the benefits?

Now we’re looking closer at the NCS System and all of its benefits. How to describe a colour, understand the colour from its notation without a colour sample. When you see the colour, you need to understand what you are looking at to be able to make rational decisions. The balance between rational and intuitive, is very important.

So let’s learn some more about the NCS System and its value when describing a colour.

Researched since 1945

1945: Numerous activities are begun, which eventually result in the founding of the company, later to become known as the Scandinavian Colour Institute.

1960: In the 60s, Dr. A. Hård, Dr. L. Sivik and Dr. G. Tonnquist initiated research in order to finally achieve this perfect visual colour communication system. During the 1960s and 1970s, the Swedish Colour Centre Foundation implements more than 100 man years of scientific research and development. Architects, designers, psychologists, physicists, chemists, and colour researchers work together to create the NCS – Natural Colour System.®©  Underlying the Natural Colour System are almost 20 years of research work headed by Hård, Sivik and Tonnquist.

1978: To achieve a commercial realisation of the NCS system, the company is named the Scandinavian Colour Institute AB (now NCS Colour AB).  Målaremästarna (The Association for Swedish Painting Contractors) takes on the ownership.

1979: The NCS System was launched as a Swedish national colour standard (SIS). The NCS System was illustrated in the NCS Atlas with a standard selection of 1 412 colours. As research continued, the choice of standardised colours has been revised and has increased.

The NCS colour space

From the elementary colours we can describe all 10 million colours, and we do this using The NCS System that we start to present in this video. 

The NCS triangle

Now you understand how The NCS Colour Space works and The NCS Colour Circle. But each hue has nuances, and therefore, you also need to understand The NCS Triangle. 

Hue + Nuance = the NCS notation

1: Hue is where you are in the colour circle. Whether it´s a Yellow, Red, Blue or Green colour. For example: Y10R – Yellow 10% Red.
2. The Nuance can be found in the colour triangle of the Hue. This tells you how strong or dark the colour is. For example, in NCS 3050-Y10R, 30 stands for the percentage of Blackness (0-100%) and 50 stands for the percentage of Chromaticness of that particular Hue.

This will give us the code: 3050-Y10R. 

If it is one of the 1950 standardised colours of NCS, we add an “S” for Standard: S 3050-Y10R


But in The NCS Notation, whiteness isn’t marked with numbers, this is something you need to calculate. Let’s take a look at how that works. 

The achromatic colours

In the NCS Colour Space, the neutral colours form the grey scale from the pure black to the pure white in the centre of the space. In the video below, we will explain the neutral colours, also called the grey scale. 

The grey scale is called neutrals (N)

There is no chromaticness at all, here is some examples:

• S 0300-N is 3% blackness and 0% chromaticness

• S 2000-N is 20% blackness and 0% chromaticness

• S 4500-N is 45% blackness and 0% chromaticness

• S 9000-N is 90% blackness and 0% chromaticness