40 years as colour experts



NCS Colour Design Tools - Fan Decks

Colour research

In order to make correct colour decisions we need to understand the way we perceive colour, and especially the colours that we are working with. We need tools to define colour and not the least, we need a way to communicate the chosen ones in order to ensure that the produced colour is the same as the envisioned colour.

When the NCS System was launched in 1979 it was a scientifically based colour notation system, based on how we perceive colour visually. Which allows us to describe the colour on all imaginable surfaces, making it possible to define, quality assure and communicate colour in a revolutionising way to ensure a correct end result.

Part of NCS’s uniqueness is that it allows for colour communication between all parties involved in the colour process. To ensure that the end result is precisely as it was meant to be.

Today the NCS System is used by architects, designers, material manufacturers and retailers globally to communicate colour – it is a universal standard for colour communication.

NCS Colour Design Tools & Floorplan

40 years of NCS Production History

Following the NCS System launch in 1979 with the iconic NCS Atlas, NCS quickly became the preferred colour reference for architects, designers and for the industry globally. On the journey to the present day several other products have evolved, such as the top seller NCS Index 2050, alongside other innovative solutions like the cloud-based colour management platform CAPQ. Constantly evolving the NCS offer while research into colour perception and colour communication keeps evolving.

NCS Atlas, Cascade 980, CAPQ, Colour

Dating all the way back to the seventeenth century (1611), the first known colour space, the Forsius Globe, was published in “Physica” by Aron Sigfrid Forsius. The NCS Colour Space is considered to be inspired by the Forsius Globe.

In the 1960s, Dr. A. Hård, Dr. L. Sivik and Dr. G. Tonnquist initiated research in order to finally achieve this perfect visual colour communication system. In 1979, the NCS System was launched as a Swedish national colour standard (SIS).

The NCS System was then 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 expanded.

In 1984, an additional 118 colour were added. One decade later, in 1995, the second edition of the standardised NCS colours was launched with a total of 1 750 colours. A new world-leading colour accuracy and consistency that is still unique today. The second edition was also based on environmentally approved
pigments in accordance with EU-regulations.

Today the NCS Standard Collection comprises 1 950 NCS Standard colours.



Illustrated below is the most important milestones on the journey to support in the work with colour!
Milestones - 1946, 1979, 2019

Revolutionising future colour communication

NCS System, Colour Samples, Fan decks, NCS Web

With the NCS System as its core, NCS Colour continues to develop innovative colour solutions and evolve within colour management, launching both physical and digital solutions. The NCS System is currently the national colour standard in several countries and international presence in over 80 countries world-wide.


The same colour must be possible to produce on different materials and products from different manufacturers. The function of the exact colour is very important. This can be everything from the colour of emergency exit signs, colour marking of needles within the healthcare segment to the colour of our Swedish flag. What all of these examples have in common is that the colours must be the same regardless of manufacturer in order for people to recognise them. This is made possible by national and international standards that authorities and industries mutually agree on, and which describe the colours in a precise and unambiguous way. (SIS, ISO, CEN and CIE are some of the most important standardisation organisations).

NCS is a standardised colour communication system with its colour notations and accurate colour samples that provide the industry with the tools needed in order to always achieve the right colour on significant products.

The NCS System and its colour samples are standardised in Sweden and several in several other countries. Furthermore, the NCS
Notations are used in countless standards and instructions for accurate colour specification. 

Contact us for further information info@ncscolour.com