NCS – Natural Colour System®

Describe any imaginable surface colour with NCS

NCS – Natural Colour System® is a scientifically based colour system that allows for accurate cross-industrial colour communication for designers and manufacturers, retailers and customers. Since NCS is based on how we perceive colour visually, the system allows you to describe colour on all imaginable surfaces. This has made the colour system a global standard for definition, quality assurance and communication of colour. All surface colours can be described with a NCS Notation.

NCS System in 3 steps

Learn about the smartness of the NCS System in just a few minutes

NCS Quick Course

Learn more about the practical use of NCS. Explore the NCS Quick Course!

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The NCS System

The foundation of our products is NCS – Natural Colour System®, a cross-industry colour system used around the world for colour communication between designers and manufacturers, retailers and customers. Since the NCS System is based on how we perceive colours visually the system allows you to describe any imaginable surface colour and be given an NCS Notation. 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 NCS?

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.

Elementary Colours

The Natural Colour System is based on the six elementary colours which are perceived by human beings as being “pure”. E.g. pure green is not perceived to be bluish or yellowish, nor is pure yellow perceived to be greenish or reddish. We can describe all 10 million colours that we can perceive with the six elementary colours.

NCS Colour Space

NCS – Natural Colour System is illustrated in a three-dimensional colour space. Within this three-dimensional model, all imaginable surface colour can be plotted and given an NCS Notation.

NCS Colour Circle

The NCS Colour Circle is a horizontal section through the middle of the colour space. The hue is described as the relation to one or two of the four chromatic elementary colours in the colour circle.

NCS Colour Triangle

The NCS Colour Triangle is a vertical section through the colour space. For each hue in the NCS Colour Circle, there is one NCS Colour Triangle.

NEUTRAL COLOURS: The Neutral colours, pure grey colours, follows along the backside of the NCS Triangle for all hues. They do not have a hue and are only given nuance notations followed by – N for neutral.

NCS Notation

The colour NCS S 1040-R20B has the nuance 1040, i.e. 10% in blackness and 40% in chromaticness. The whiteness is then: 100% – 10% – 40% = 50%

Click here for a complete list of NCS Literature References.

NCS – An international recognised colour standard

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 the 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 (see list below). Furthermore, the NCS Notations are used in countless standards and instructions for accurate colour specification.

Swedish standard for NCS:
NCS Colour Atlas; SS 19102:2004
Colour notation system; SS 19100
NCS Colour Samples (assessment and measurement conditions and tolerances); SS 19104

NCS is also a national Colour standard i following countries:
Norway; NS-SS 19102:2004
Spain; UNE 48103:2014
South Africa; SANS 1091:2012
USA; ASTM E2970 – 15

Colour Harmonies

Learn how to create harmonizing colour combinations based on the smartness of the NCS System with a few easy steps.

E-learning: NCS in Design

Learn the professional methodology and strategy to communicate and work with colour! NCS in Design is a basic course that focuses on colour design principles and how to work smarter with colour harmonies by using the NCS System

40 years of NCS

In honor of NCS System’s 40th anniversary 2019, we continue to celebrate our past and present and look forward to many colorful years to come.