Why Use the NCS color system

The NCS Natural Color Classification System has become a universal language and a unique means of communicating color, from its creation to its industrial production.


The NCS system (Natural Color System) is a scientific system referring to the work of Aron Sigfrid Forsius combined with Ewald Hering’s theory of antagonistic pairs.

This color tracking system in three-dimensional space is one of the few systems (along with the one of Munsell and Oswald) to be completely based on human perception.

It is therefore designed to describe, note, illustrate and communicate color as we perceive it.

It has thus become, a universal language present all over the world and in fact, a unique means of communicating color, from its creation (with the specification of the idea) to its industrial production (and the supply of standards of color).


For color communication to be efficient, it is necessary to ensure that all people who communicate have access, visually, to the same color.

So you have to be sure that, everywhere in the world, everyone involved has the same standard before them. On this essential point, no one can guarantee the perfect visual identity of different standards of the same reference over time (colorimetric instruments as much as visual standards have their own uncertainties).

The NCS approach and the quality of the color tools have no equivalent. In fact, NCS works with a unique and totally transparent quality management system. NCS colorimetric instrumentation then makes it possible to distinguish three quality classes:

Standard quality class (QS-Standard)

The highest quality class allows only minimum tolerances and guarantees the highest accuracy in color design (max deviation up to 0.5 ΔE *).

Quality class 1 (QS-1)

This quality class is used for NCS products such as color sample collections. It is particularly suitable for architects, painters, colorists, designers and other professionals working with colors (maximum deviation up to 0.8 ΔE *).

Quality class 2 (QS-2)

This quality class is used for NCS products such as fan swatches, which are produced using a more economical process and with slightly higher tolerances 

* We hold at your disposal and on request, all the information concerning the tolerances of acceptability (formulas, conditions of observation, …)

You are therefore certain to have before you, everywhere in the world, the same color standard with a perfectly identified color quality.
Only this quality, mastered and identified, makes color communication possible.


The 2050 NCS colour standards are just a small part of the colours we are able to perceive. In fact, they only represent reference standards, equidistant in psychosensory terms, which make it possible to represent the NCS space in 3 dimensions.

However, the NCS system is not a collection of colors, but a universal language for describing the set of colors that we can perceive. The NCS rating system can then describe nearly 10 million different colors.

These few million colors, each with their own NCS notation, then become customizable, communicable and achievable in the form of a physical color sample.

These unique characteristics make NCS a reference system for designers, architects and also manufacturers of products and materials. They all have a common interest: clear and unambiguous communication on colors.


The absolute perception of color does not exist, it is only relative. Thus, the colored sensation of a surface is only built by comparison and contrast with the neighboring surface.
And since a color is rarely seen in isolation, but rather generally judged in a particular environment and context, it is important to choose colors by reasoning in terms of overall design, by integrating the effects of colors on each other. The artists quickly integrated this relativity. Matisse said “Colors have no value in themselves; above all they have a differential value”.

The artists quickly integrated this relativity. Matisse said “Colors have no value in themselves; above all they have a differential value” »

Scientists have also been able to demonstrate this. Helmoltz said: “The painter must reproduce, not the color but the impression that it produced”

These artistic and scientific theories will lead the greatest teachers of color, like Josef Albers to write: “In its visual perception, a color is almost never seen as it really is, as it is physically”

Josef Albers concluded: “To use colors effectively, it is essential to admit that color continually deceives”

Thus, it was not until Michel Eugène Chevreul that the rules on harmonies were laid down, defined and demonstrated.

And whether this paradigm of harmonies is defended by some (Van Gogh, White, …) or attacked by others (Gauguin,…), it is the basis and the foundation of our current colour associations and no one, member or not to this dogma, cannot be freed from this cultural and historical dimension of colour.

All these constitute the rules of chromatic harmony in our society: “agreement of similars” and “analogy of opposites”.

The NCS system is the ultimate creative tool for playing and matching colours.

It makes it just as easy to work with these safe and objective harmonies, analogy and similarity, as to transgress these rules while objectifying and formalizing the creative process.