What is the NCS system?

How do you ensure that your supplier or customer pictures a particular forest green colour exactly the same way that you do? The NCS system helps you communicate colours in a way that everyone understands.
The NCS system is a universal way of describing colours as we experience them visually. Each colour has a unique NCS notation to describe how the colour relates to the four basic colours – yellow, red, blue, and green, as well as to black and white – in blackness, whiteness and chromaticness. The NCS code describes the percentage of the colour that consists of these different parts. This makes it possible to describe the colours of all surface materials and ensure that the colours turn out exactly as you want them to.

The foundation of our products is the NCS – Natural Colour System®© – the cross-industry colour system used around the world for colour communication between designers and manufacturers, retailers and customers. The NCS system is based on how we perceive colour visually, regardless of surface, pigment, or lighting. The NCS system therefore allows you to describe every single one of the 10 million colours that the human eye can perceive. This has made the colour system a global standard for the definition, quality assurance, and communication of colour.

Who is this for?

The NCS system is used by architects, designers, and material manufacturers, the colour industry, product manufacturers, and retailers the world over.


Why use the NCS system?

The NCS system gives a unique opportunity to communicate colour between all those involved in a colour process, to ensure that the end result is precisely as it should be.

How the NCS system works

1. The NCS system is based on these basic colours that together create all the colours that the eye can see.

2. Choose the closest hue

3. Find the closest nuance



S means that the colour is part of the visual selection of NCS 1950 standard colours.
The first part of the code (e.g.) 1050 describes the nuance and colour strength.

  • This has 10% blackness
  • 50% chromaticness (colour strength)
  • The remaining 40% out of 100% is whiteness which is not printed out in the NCS notation

The second part of the NCS notation, e.g. Y90R, is the hue, which can be described as the position within the NCS colour circle. The colour circle consists of the four elementary colours – yellow, red, blue, and green – all placed at 10% intervals in the 40 steps of the NCS colour circle. Code Y90R is described as:

  • A yellow (Y)
  • with 90% of redness (R).

Another example: B40G is a blue colour with 40% green, and so on.