Can anyone provide the letter codes and their meanings used for paint formulas?
The letter coding should tell you what colors are added to the base to make the specific color?
I'll share a little story just with you guys. There is a website written by a colorist who is supposedly quite experienced - just ask and they will tell in great and painful detail how experienced and knowledgeable (but I digress).
The site goes on to list all of those codes you are inquiring about for ONE BRAND of paint. The reason why an entire post was dedicated to listing out those formula codes was because, according to the author, if you know the "secret" code for colorants then everything will be so much easier.
Aside from qualifying exactly "what" will be easier there are problems - big problems with this thought process:
1. Colorants vary brand to brand. So, to start, we have to ask WHICH brand do you want to know what colors of colorants the two-letter acronyms stand for.
2. Once you get the full listing of colorant codes for the brand you're interested in, then you have to get the colorant code for the actual STORE you want to use. Once you determine the actual paint store, then you have to further clarify which colorant wheel (or tint rack) in the store you want to discuss. Most stores have more than one and each of them can have different combinations of colorants. Because...
3. A brand of paint can have a number of colorants, but that doesn't mean ALL of them make it into the colorant wheel(s) at every single store. Thee is A LOT that is left to the discretion of the store's master colorist/tinter and they have the freedom to customize and change out colorants as they see fit. i.e. a batch of bright yellow colorant is mixing in weird, so they take it out and replace it with another one.
Customization of the colorant racks can be taken pretty far especially in independent paint stores - to the extent that the tinter makes up his own two-letter acronym for the colorants he likes to use. No joke, I know a store where this happens. It's kinda brilliant actually. *His* code is the formula code on the labels that go out *his* store's door. He keeps meticulous records for *his* customers in *his* computer. If *his* customers take *his* cans of paint to another store for a match, it makes it really, really hard for anyone to duplicate *his* mixed masterpieces. Goes without saying that he takes colorants and mixing color for *his* store very seriously.
So that brings us to the end of the story. And the point of all this is to reinforce the fact that rendering any kind of cheat-sheet for paint brand's colorants is totally and completely irrelevant and useless.
The typical consumer of paint/color stands to gain little or nothing by getting involved with colorant and formula information. The only thing you're likely to get out of the endeavor is confused.
And that's just a little background on colorants specifically. There's a whole 'nother discussion to be had about how the base cans of paint factor into all of this.
The only reason I asked was to find out what colors are actually in the paint samples I purchased. The samples look fine on the card and in the jar but look so very different on the wall. I was hoping if I knew what the letter codes meant in terms of color I could tell if one had more yellow in it for example or another had more black. I wasn't trying to use them for anything else. I appreciate your detailed reply though - it's a lot of good information!
aaaannnnd this is how the bases factor in. :) I don't know which brand you're speaking to, but I'll use Sherwin Williams as an example.
The Color To Go jug will/might/probably have a different combination of colorants than a quart or a gallon.
Further, sometimes the formula on a quart can will differ from the formula on a gallon can - and vice versa.
You can use different combinations of colorants to arrive at the same end paint color. This is why the colorants in the tint racks don't have to match store to store.
The fundamental issue should be that your mixed sample matches the color chip. Or the mixed quart or gallons matches the color chip.
Should always ask for a lil bit of paint dried out on a card so you can compare - that's called a draw-down. Most paint counters automatically do that for us, but sometimes you have to ask. Stepping outside to take a look, not direct sunlight, helps as does checking the match by a window before you leave the store.
If your mixed sample doesn't match the paint chip, then something is wrong and you should take it back.
I should have said when I paint the wall outside on my house, the color looks so darn different. I think the paint matches the chip. I find chips I like but when I paint the wall they don't look as good.
Why is picking out exterior paint so difficult? Is there some trick I don't know about?
Except for 2 paint co.'s, paint chips obviously arent' paint!
Printed colorstrips with Inks/lacquers on them do CLOSELY resemble an actual paint color...BUT...they're NOT paint itself.
A dried paint film reflects light a little differently off its surface, relative to super-smooth, ink-printed paper.
For BEST color-test results:
* Just buy a quart of chosen color/sheen.
* Using disposable mini-rollers or brush, apply color to FOAM-BOARD pieces that are at least a foot square.
* Foam-boards are a much better way to sample, because you're not adding an "often visible" extra layer or two of paint on a surface.
* Adequate dry-time is also necessary. You'll need a day or so b4 color looks "final". SHEEN may change slightly over next couple weeks tho....
>>> Like any paint color...ONE color applied in 6 different homes will look like 6 different colors. Same with exteriors...
Arapaho, I'm going through the same thing with finding the right exterior color. I'm trying to find a creamy yellow for my house. I'm working with an expert, but I feel like we are randomly throwing darts on the wall. The samples I have tried are coming out too harsh, too lemony, or slipping into beige or gold.
I thought Benjamin Moore Straw would be perfect, given how great it looks inside my house, but outside it is a distinct peach color.
It seems like you should be able to look at the formulas and learn from them, but maybe there are just too many variables.
ooooooh. I thought you meant the paint chip and the paint sample were off.
Wonder how much the existing color of the house might influencing how you're *reading* the new color.
Thanks faron and funcolors! I appreciate all the info.
graywings - someone is feeling my pain! It's horrible.
The reason I asked for the coding in formulas (I'm not even sure I'm saying this correctly because my brain is fried over this), is because I can read on the top of my Behr color sample jar:
The color has a green tint to it which I was expecting. Do one of the "codes" above stand for green/yellow? Is it C? If so, that would explain why. I think B is for black? Knowing these things is helpful in choosing the next sample to try. If I want less green/yellow the formula should have less than 26?
Does any of this make sense?
Paint color is always relative to the surrounding colors, and changes when you have large areas of it.
You have to test the colors in LARGE swatches, as explained. Paint them and carry them to the different sides of the house so you can see what looks best on all sides in all lighting.
I'M familiar with Behr colorants...we used to have a Behr line, until we took on C2. I'm NOT sad to be done with Behr!
Behr colorants are almost identical to ACE's & Ralph-Lauren.
(C2 is a whole 'nother story!)
From your "label", they're using 3 common colorants...B,C, & I.
C=Yellow-Oxide (by far...the most commonly used colorant)
I=Brown-Oxide (ACE & some other companies stopped using this colorant a few years back for some reason.
Most "formula-databases" use "48ths, 96ths, & 192nds" for their shot dispensing lingo/formual representations. Manual tinters can't reliably shoot 96ths & 192nds very well.
Your sample uses "384ths" of a colorant-ounce to define formula's. If I divide your formula by "7", I get the format I'm used to seeing, which is X/48.
Soooo...7/384's = 1/48th.
For most stores, 1/48th is called a "shot".
>>> Your formula would have to be scaled WAAAAAY up to get a gallon formula.
No...there's no "Green" in your formula. BUT...the B & C mixed together DO make an olive tone!
That's the way it is with many Khaki-Olives...there's rarely any actual Green! The Iron-Oxide (it's actually a weird, slightly red/swiss-chocolate color...IMO!) keeps a tone in the "Brown/Tan" class easier.
Fancy pump-driven tinters shoot these tiny amounts easy! We've got a couple...but they START @ ~ $13K.
Thanks, faron! So that does explain why this color has a green tint to it - it shows up more dramatically outside.
lazygardens - I hear you! I did graduate from small squares to large 3-4ft areas on my house - my neighbors must love it!
Paint color is always relative to the surrounding colors, and changes when you have large areas of it.
But at some point I would like to think you could fine tune the process if you understood the formula codes.
graywings ... Nope. Color is not chemistry, it is not linear, and it is very subjective.
Try this method:
It will get you into the "colors that look good" range, and from there you can start sampling.
I used to have a link to a place on BM's web site that listed all the color formulas. I compared the chip, the painted sample, and the color formula on the web site, and sure enough the information was useful. The colors I preferred had certain colorants and not others.
A couple years later, I couldn't find the formula information. :(
I also did some experimenting with color formulas myself. I read about Donald Kaufman's magical colors, read his book, and mixed up some of his recipes with artist's colors, the best pigments available. I did NOT see any difference between my Kaufman recipe with artist's pigments and a nice BM color. *shrug* However, the colors and finishes of the cheapest paints I tried were definitely not as nice.
Well, lots of conversation to be had in follow up on this post. Just ooodles! :)
First, DK mixes his colors in Pratt & Lambert base. Many base cans of paint start out with like a shot of black. Just because there is no black in a full spectrum color formula doesn't mean there's no black - at all - in the can. Using P&L, however, gives DK one of the *cleanest* starting points you can have for many of his full spectrum colors. So, who knows. . . the base you used to experiment could very well have affected your result -- just never know. ((shrug))
Full spectrum paint sellers are very clear about the statements they make about their product. "No black in the formula" is a 100% accurate, completely truthful statement. It's like one-coat coverage. One-coat coverage means exactly that. No more. No less. The new color will cover the old in one coat but that doesn't mean it will be all perfect looking and finished - probably still have to two coats for a proper paint job.
If you decide to take on the hobby of paint color formulas and are working with one store as a resource, then there IS a lot you can do and play with and figure out. I can agree there are "indicators" that you can string together based on observation and through trial and error - just like previous posters on this thread. But that simply is not the every day reality for the average paint/color consumer.
Problem is most consumers want to use the formulas as some kind of code or road map in the paint color selection process -- and usually on a very infrequent basis. It just does not work out well most of the time. Especially for the people on the other side of the paint counter. There is too much to know about colorants and bases and if you aren't involved with it on an almost daily basis, there's just no way to amass the knowledge necessary to use the formulas as an avenue for precision color selection.
True story from last week. An interior designer new to the area walked into an established independent paint store. She herself had previously worked in a paint store, announces that to everyone and then asks for a particular red but wanted adjustments to the formula. Proceeds to tell the guy behind the counter (who, btw, has been mixing paint in the same store with the same tint machine for 25 years) which base to pull and which colorants to shoot. Argued with him until he simply caved to her request and mixed a quart the way she demanded because she wasn't going to take no for answer. Instead of making everyone aware of her level of color expertise, she shoulda been asking the guy mixing the paint what he knew about it, but anyway. . .
The red came out purple. Just like he said it would. The paint store ate the cost of the quart. I would have made her pay for it.
She wasted 45 minutes of his time, cost the store a quart and left without buying anything because she thought she knew exactly what she was doing when it came to the formula. Had it in her head exactly what would happen and what she'd get. When it didn't happen that way, she was stumped and confused to the point she left to go reassess.
She should have stayed in the store, showed the man what she wanted and left him the hell alone to go make the color. The woman worked in a paint store and even SHE didn't understand just how unpredictable and precarious playing with formulas and bases can be.
Interesting thread in that it describes two key phenomenon that most consumers have a tough time grasping. The first is metamerism, which describes the apparent change in color between two samples that match in one light (incandescent) and no longer match in a different light (daylight). This is fairly common when you get a color matched in a different system than the one the color was created in. Metamerism is driven by the pigments used in making the colors; for example, getting BM colors matched at HD.
The other phenomenon described here is inconstancy. This describes how a single color shifts in different lighting sources - looks yellow inside, peachy outside. This is a property of the color itself and not a function of pigments used. This is your brain trying to compensate for different lighting sources in a given color- think of it as your brain's "white balance" function, sometimes it works very good, other times, not so well.
Knowing what colorants are in the can certainly can't hurt but they are in no way a predictor of either how inconstant or metameric a color might be. Making the color in the system it came from and sampling in the light the color will be seen is the best way to know for sure.
This is depressing. I have nine sample cans of yellow paint and I'm still looking for the right yellow for my house.
The multitude of colors in the tinting package make the 'formula' not very useful for judging what the final shade may appear.
This is not light (red-green-blue additive process) or pure pigments (cyan-magenta-yellow subtractive process).
The 'color' of the light used to view the pigment also changes perception.
bright noon daylight is not going to be the same as evening indirect sky light, or incandescent, let alone florescent.
Light reflected from nearby trees will have a green component added, and alter the color perception of anything it illuminates.
So what color where you looking for?
Pigment, colorant,ink, paint, etc. fit into the subtractive color model because they are a reflected source of color, not emitted (which is the additive color model or space).
I'm looking for a soft buttery yellow. I've gotten lemon, gold, cream, peach, and pink-beige thus far.
There's an old color from Behr called Cornerstone. I think you have to get it mixed in one of their paint pots 'cuz they don't have chips any more. Not sure tho but it might be one to try outside the normal color resources like SW & BenM.
graywings, if you're up to one more color sample, you might want to try Oyster Shell, DCR 116. It's part of the Colors of Historic Charleston collection; I had mine mixed at my local Sherwin-Williams.
I know light can play tricks with colors, but I've included a link of what it looks like on the outside of a house (the guy on the ladder in the pic, that's the color on the siding). If you click on the video links, Episode 1 shows a little more of the color. It's a beautiful shade.
Here is a link that might be useful: Oyster Shell on outside of house
Thank you! I'll give Cornerstone a look.
I don't have access to Lord & Evans Paints to try the Oyster Shell.
Lord & Evans Paints, a Charleston company that traces its history in the paint business to 1865, markets the "Colors of Historic Charleston" unders its own label. These locally acclaimed paints and colors have been approved for use in the Historic District and Old City areas of Charleston as well as being specified for the exterior color schemes of neighborhoods such as I'On and Daniel Island among others.
I ordered the paint swatch palette directly from the Historic Charleston Foundation website for $5.00 plus s/h. It says right on the back that the paints are available exclusively at Sherwin-Williams and Duron. I got my color mixed at Sherwin-Williams.
I did a little googling, and Lord & Evans supplies Duron. I thought Duron was bought ought by SW.
Oh well, if the other colors don't work and you're still looking, lol, you can get this color mixed up at a local SW in a very generously sized sample for about $5.00, satin finish only though.
I'll drop by my local SW store and see if they can help. But you see the problem - $5 for the swatch, another $5 for the sample, plus the countless other samples I bought - and here's the kicker - I paid some guy on the internet a small fortune to help me so as to avoid this very issue.
Yes, how frustrating! One of the reasons I decided to go with "historic" colors is that I find paint selections to be terribly confusing. What looks good on a sample can be overwhelming when on the wall, the effects of light on colors, etc. So far, everything I've chosen from this palette looks great.
Oh, I only ordered the color palettes online because I wanted several in order to cut the little sample colors out and play with them, lol. Your SW store may have one available without you having to order it.
But good luck finding that yellow!
brede - if you like the 'historic' slant on color collections, Pratt & Lambert just signed a new long-term agreement with/for the Williamsburg Color Collection. 184 colors.
"Pigment, colorant,ink, paint, etc. fit into the subtractive color model because they are a reflected source of color, not emitted"
And paint colors barely fit into the model since they do not use anything approaching spectrally consistent base colors (cyan, magenta, yellow).
The source of light ('light color') for the subtractive system also drives how the colors are perceived.
3-color printing (and the dies used in color photography) are a consistent set allowing the use of only three pigments to make up a very large combination of colors by relatively simple additive means (color separation process).
4-color printing adds black since the combination of cyan-magenta and yellow does not produce saturated black, but more of a gray.
brick, normally I can catch on quickly as to what part of the additive/subtractive gig people get stuck on. Have to admit, I'm not sure how you're interpreting what you're reading.
I think you're thinking that if it's not cyan, magenta, yellow then it's not subtractive color. That's probably because the resource you've found is speaking to/from and purely graphics point of view. Interesting that black is left out - apparently - because it's not CMY in printing/publishing, it's actually CMYK because you can't make black with just CMY. Mixing approximately equal amounts of CMY comes out more like a sludgely oil brown/black. You have to have a separate, pure black.
And I think what you mean by 'light color' might be SPD spectral power distribution of the light source.
Additive and subtractive can be as complicated or as simple as you want to make it. The bare bones, flat out plain and simple version is additive is emitted light and subtractive is reflected. If the source for color isn't an emitted source, then it's reflected. And reflected reaches far beyond just the tiny corner of graphics that deals with CMY.
"I think you're thinking that if it's not cyan, magenta, yellow then it's not subtractive color."
I fully understand it is a subtractive system since it is not a light source.
The 'barely fits' comment is over the large number of colors used to make up the 'system.'
It is done to reduce costs, since the actual pure pigments are painfully expensive (look at the price of separation inks sometime).
"And I think what you mean by 'light color' might be SPD spectral power distribution of the light source. "
Having spent the past two weeks measuring all sorts of light sources with an optical spectrum analyzer, I am well aware of the technical terms for light 'color' (like ratings in units Kelvin of an equivalent black body source - that often fails to match over significant portions of the visible spectrum).
They terms are less useful in dealing with folks who have not been involved with light and pigments.
The Color Rendering Index (CRI) used to try and describe how discharge lighting affects perceived color has been at least partly successful, but it is still not hard to find a particular pigment color that fails to render very well.
"4-color printing adds black since the combination of cyan-magenta and yellow does not produce saturated black, but more of a gray. "
Guess you missed that part.
K was chosen for black to avoid any confusion with Blue.
No, actually, I didn't miss that part. It doesn't come out gray. Mixing near equal parts of CMY comes out brown/black sludge-like. Definitely looks like mud.
It was the early 1990's when a giant box arrived for me at work. It was one of the first full color printers Textronics made. It didn't take "ink" or a cartridge as we know it today. Instead, it took "blocks" of CMYK. The blocks were crayon-like and were the size of the palm of my hand. The black one always ran out twice as fast as the other colors. When the black block ran out, I'd get some interesting colors. They were actually kinda cool looking.
And, yes, it is correct that black is cheaper but it's also necessary because a printed black/black can not be achieved without it. Everyone has to worry about budget and while pricing of inks does come into play, with regard to color management, the cost isn't as important as accuracy. If the color isn't right, if it doesn't look right, then it's of no value and the cost argument is moot.
The K stands for key as in key alignments in the four color system. The story about the B is more urban legend than fact. As with most things uber color, most color experts are not concerned about making things less confusing nor are they willing to sacrifice technically accurate just to make things easy. "Blue" isn't an accurate term because it's "Cyan" so I'd wager a guess that blue was never even a consideration - they weren't thinking blue because blue isn't technically accurate. If using a B would have been correct, we would be calling it CMYB instead of CMYK and the onus would be on us to know what we're talking about. That's the way lots of stuff works in many realms of color.
I think you have some accurate pieces of information from different parts and genres of color.
Darn it, Behr Cornerstone turned out to be very similar to BM Windham Cream, both of which are too light.
Along the lines of this discussion, I have the lid from a can of Behr paint from 2010 that has the colorant codes B, C, F, and KX on the custom color label. In June 2012 I took this lid into HD and asked for a refill. The custom color label on the new paint had the colorant codes BL, IL, KXL, and TL on it. This paint matched fairly well to the old, but not perfectly. At the time, I didn't even check the colorant codes, just assuming that there is a limit to how well the machine could dispense colorants.
First question: Did the colorant codes change between 2010 and 2012, thereby preventing the simple copying and re-use of the codes from the original lid? In other words, were letters added to the original 2010 codes, and maybe some of the actual Behr colorants changed between 2010 and 2012?
The reason I ask is that in August 2012, I took the same old lid (the one with the codes (B, C, F, and KX) into the HD again and asked for another refill. This time the custom color label had a slightly different set of colorant codes on it (BL, DL, IL, KXL) with significantly different amounts of BL, and KXL colorants, not to mention the substitution of DL for the TL that was in the June batch. This August batch is much darker, as the increase from BL=8oz+65/384ths to BL=9oz+72/384ths would indicate.
Second question: Should I be able to get an "exact" match to the original B, C, F, KX recipe?
Thank you for any advice or information on this.
It could be the case that it isn't possible to get that exact formula again -- or at least if you can, it may not look right.
Unlike milk, eggs, etc; paint is continuously evolving. Paint is becoming more environmentally friendly (lower VOC) and consumers really like the "Paint & Primer in One", thus formulas and bases are always being upgraded and tweaked for better coverage, performance, etc.
What happens is; these changes do cause the tint bases to have different characteristics when colorants are added. So now, to arrive at "Believable Buff", they have to change the formula because "New and Improved Base Y" which took the place of "Obsolete Base X" now contains more titanium dioxide. You could mix the old formula in to the new base, but the color wouldn't look right because the new base is built differently. Clear as mud? ;)
Colorants change too. At least in a sense. For example, NovoColor discontinued #104 (Lowe's System) because it didn't meet new low VOC guidelines. So, every paint color using #104 had to be tweaked. Some of the new colors may not exactly match those using the old #104, but they are very close. So it could be a case of the old colorants just not being available - kind of like buying a printer ribbon for an Apple Image Writer printer.
When I worked at Lowe's, Valspar changed their base structure. It used to be Ultra White, Base 1, Base 2, Base 4. Now it's Base A/Ultra White, Base B and Base C. All the Valspar colors had to be reformulated for these new batches. Sure you could shoot the old Base 4 formula in to a Base C but surprisingly, sometimes it wouldn't look right. Base B really threw a wrench in the system because it was in between Base 1 and Base 2.
Needless to say, while I loved working with paint, I'm glad I get to choose when I think about it now ;).
Thank you Les. you are indeed correct. Home Depot (or Behr) did change their colorants to a new, lower VOC set. I had to ask the person behind the counter to find this out. Why I couldn't find this information about the colorant change anywhere on the internet is a mystery. This site is literally the state of the art in terms of available information on paint colorants. When I discovered that the new colorants are all they have to work with, I had them match the formula on the lid from the June 2012 batch (the better match of the 2 from 2012). Much better result!
Many companies are in this changeover now.
It's NOT a cheap process:
* New formula databases/software have to be developed,
* Most of the time, a new tinter is involved (NOT cheap either!!...some get a ways into 5-figure$$$).
* The colorants themselves get more expensive...Magenta's may creep closer to $100....PER QUART...
Can this question be answered? Out of 7 samples of EXT. grays, (to my eye anyway)they all went purplish. SW dovetail, amazing gray, fawn brindle, perfect greige, versatile gray, requisite gray, revere pewter. I gave up and painted my house Porter olive gray. Call me crazy but I still want gray! So, I'm looking at SW dorian gray (on same card as dovetail) and intellectual gray (same card as amazing gray)I like the dorian gray best but because it's on the same strip as dovetail is it likely to go purplish also?
So Graywings, did you ever find your yellow?
sandnat, what type of gray are you looking for? Any particular undertones? How light or dark?
Graywings, which yellows did you try?
Did you look at SW Toasted Pine Nut, that's real pretty in my daughters kitchen. SW Croissant?? My home is painted BM Powell Buff, with a little black added.
I work at Sherwin, so I'm pretty obsessed with formulas too.
No one ever answered the original question on this thread!
I don't know why it has to be such a mystery and, as the original poster suggested, I think knowing the colorants used really can help to understand why certain paint colors are not working for you, (and get you moving toward a color that will work). I have wasted so much time, money, and effort on bad paint colors!
Don't even get me started on "color matching". The supposed "experts" who mix your paint for you really have no idea of the effect you are trying to achieve in your home and the color matching instrument has never worked in my personal experience. I know the bases vary, I know the pigments/colorants vary. But still, umber is always closer to another umber than to black. The color matching system always comes up with the most convoluted mixtures of tints to approximate the original, and the character/undertone of the copy is fundamentally different from the original. It IS important for the homeowner to know what colorants are in their base. Why are paint counter people so opposed to giving the user this information?
In the interest of empowering homeowners who are just trying to get the color they want, here are a list of codes that are often used. Add "L" at the end of each to translate to the current Behr colorant codes:
C (or YO or OY)-Yellow Oxide
L- Raw Umber (Oxide)
I- Brown Oxide
B- Lamp Black (Oxide)
F - Red Oxide
D- Phalo Green
E- Pthalo Blue
R- Organic Red or Exterior Red
V - Magenta
T - Medium Yellow
AXX - Organic Yellow or Perm Yellow
This post was edited by YesWeCan on Thu, Feb 7, 13 at 10:44
The only thing that matters from a consumers perspective is the result - the back-end of color. What is the result on the back-end after the colorants are mixed with a specific base paint.
If colorants were an important aspect of paint color on the back-end where it matters then colorants would be measured, by device or observer, data plotted, and color ordered predicated on individual colorants. But that's not how it works. If it's not measured, plotted, and ordered then you know it's not important, doesn't matter. Like undertones - if undertones existed and were important in architectural paint they too would be measured, plotted, and ordered. But they aren't. The idea that aspects like colorants, undertones, whatnot are significant is more fiction than fact.
It's not like someone doesn't want to 'give up' info. Or that someone hasn't thought of something before - like how colorants or undertones could be factors. It's been pondered. And dismissed for good reason.
Paint racks are ordered by hue family, not colorants. Which is why no one who works with paint colors focuses on colorants.
Hypothetically - not suggesting this is a good idea - but hypothetically if one were to create a guide or cheat-sheet using colorants then one would also have to include specific base paints. Because the base affects color results on the back-end too. So, a list of just colorants only half supports the theory that you can use what goes into into the can as final color clues.
Instead of trying to crack the code of colorants, you're better off spending your time and energy learning how to use the color order system, the color racks, in the store; everything you need to know is right in front of you, every color story can be crafted from paint chips and samples.
Even if everything (re: colorants, etc.) were magically understandable to homeowners, it doesn't mean it's gonna help them any!
I've been working in paint for a decade now.
Sometimes people ask about a colors' formula. I'll print it, & tell-'em what goes in it. 95% of the time, I just see a "Huh?" reaction!!
* Since color-perception is SO subjective, AND dependent on lighting & environment, "knowing a formula" is near irrelevant!
* With this in mind, it makes the notion of "understanding why doesn't this color work for me" near-meaningless as well...
* When a paint is tinted, it is what it is. Can't be changed very meaningfully. How this fixed entity (the color) is PERCEIVED in various environments however....WILL change.
* So...will knowing a formula or colorant properties help anything in most cases?
I am sorry,faron and funcolors, but I have to disagree. There are some of us consumers out here who are helped by knowing what tints and in what amounts are going into the can. And I think there is something weird going on when information is withheld. It's not national security or anything.
I have had many bad experiences with paint matching.
With my first house 20 years ago, I asked for the off-white that was on my walls and I had a bit of in a can to be matched. Brought it home and the color looked dirty as soon as I put it on the wall. I looked at the original formula and it had yellow and raw umber only, and was a beautiful warm white. The match had black in it, along with red and a different yellow and had none of the subtle warm lovliness of the original. I have found that I always love a white with yellow and umber, it never fails for me and I have stuck with it ever since.
Another memorable experience was just a few years ago. I brought in a can of discontinued Ralph Lauren Tangier Island. They said they would color match in Behr. They scanned a sample smear. I watched as the tints went into the can. The original paint was tinted all in red, yellow and umber. The tints going in the "matched" can included Blue! I was horrified. If I hadn't questioned it, they would have sent me home with an incredibly bad "match" that was tending green gold beige rather than the red gold beige that Tangier Island is. These are just two examples. I have more but will not bore you further. Maybe not all consumers benefit from having more information, but some of us do want it and make excellent use of it.
This post was edited by YesWeCan on Fri, Feb 8, 13 at 21:46
Whether you've made excellent use of what it is you think you know or just managed to arrive at one or two lucky conclusions could be the question. Whenever I hear green beige or red beige that's usually a good indicator that there is an opportunity to improve fundamental color knowledge.
Any paint counter staff person with a pleasant disposition will give you their list of colorants. Can even sometimes buy colorants in small quantities, usually easier to get from the independently owned stores.
I say do it. And do it a lot.
Just have to make the opportunity to do it enough times so there is a volume of efforts in order to draw broad scope conclusions vs. narrow ones.
I did state that I do print labels for people to ask!
Rats...I was gonna print the formula for RL's Tangier-Island today, but forgot 'cuz our weather got blizzardy in the ND/MN/SD region.
* Where I work, we've got C2 (the high-end line), Ralph-Lauren, & the 2 ACE lines...Royal, & Clark+Kensington.
* C2 uses a completely different set of colorants...16 in all. Some are "high-strength" versions.
* I wouldn't have used a scan formula that had "Blue" in it to make a "Beige", but I've been doing this for 10 years...!
* By now, I'm gettin' damn good at it.
* Depending on the color 2B matched, I do different things. Explaining it all would take some time!!!
I'll print the RL label Monday, & try to post it here late Mon. nite.
This is just crazy...finally decide on SW Dorian Gray for the exterior. I use one of my sample quarts SW Dovetail for the trim, like it, go to SW and buy a quart, get it home, put it on and immediately see it's not even close to the sample quart! Wayyy to purple (as if I don't have enough sample quarts of grays that go purple already) back to SW I go with both the sample and the ex. quart ready for an argument, guy looks at both and says "yeah, the formulas are different" AND he says "I can't mix the formula from the sample can into an exterior quart, all I can do is a machine color match from the sample quart" You have GOT to be kidding me??!! Can anyone explain this? He said "sometimes it just happens".
How much $ was that initial sample Qt.?
Can you call your SW store & ask if the sample was an actual PAINT tint-base?
(I've got a couple reasons for asking...)
Sounds like someone with not enough experience...?!
Color to Go jugs up to a quart up to a gallon does not always go smoothly. Can depend on the color.
It stings an extra $7 but you will read on here many times to buy a sample quart - the sample sizes aren't always what they're cracked up to be.
Paint and color is not always as direct or straightforward as common sense would suggest it should be. Which is why many people give up and pick out a "nice off-white".
I am experiencing the same thing. This sample pot and paint matching business is for the birds. How do people manage?
The samples do not match the chips. The chips do not match the gallons. The paint people can not seem to match samples. I've even seen the chips vary between two decks or a pamphlet.
I am just amazed I haven't seen more discussion on this phenomena. It seems to be a total waste of time, money and energy. I'm wondering how to go about selecting paint at this point. How do you get anywhere if things aren't accurate to begin with?
This has happened a lot, most of the time I think, over here. The other day, I backtracked to a sample board of BM Montgomery White that I'd painted months ago from one of their sample pots because I remember how surprised I was at its dinginess. Sure enough it doesn't match the chip which looks much clearer and cleaner.
This has been the only consistent result I have been getting!
1. I order large chips from manufacturers because they are always accurate. I think it's because they are stored and manged properly vs. in store chip racks which are *sometimes* not taken care of properly. If the rack is facing or near a window, forget it.
2. I buy quarts in the brand/grade/sheen that will ultimately be used and I paint GRAY sample decals, not white boards. (long story for another day)
3. I understand how the color ordering systems work brand to brand and rely on *color math*, the science of color not just art. Meaning I know what I see but corroborate what I see with my eyeballs to color data.
4. Just chill. Sometimes close enough is good enough. Choose a color, decide it's going to work and let the paint chips fall where they may.
Many homeowners try but end up being #4s. There are strategies to navigating a paint store, chip racks, and color samples. Most people don't have the time, energy or patience for it. Some seek help in-store but soon realize that designers who work in the paint store *sometimes not all the time, not every store* have ulterior motives which is to #1 sell paint and even tho they say they care about your project, they kinda really don't.
It's rough out there. Paint keeps getting more expensive, the labor isn't getting any cheaper either. The herds of "certified color experts" from every corner of the globe is a complete joke in my opinion. Color stakes keep growing but correct, quality color knowledge does not.
... and correct color knowledge is the core issue.
Everyone is lost but doesn't know it or on the brink of total color cluelessness but won't acknowledge It. It's just homeowners who are honest about none of it making a lick of sense and being confused.
Could go on for days and years but will stop. Don't want to break the spiffy new forum format or anything. :)
I'm glad someone is fessing up!
Yes, I'm aiming for good enough at this point and trying to keep things at my experience level, not too far out on the limb as I try to figure out what I really want or like. Throw the pot into the kiln to let it do its thing, as they say. A designer at the tile store told me "no one knows, we just make our selections and cross our fingers." I've heard similar statements not to worry about it too much so maybe that's where it's at. But I do want to get my undertones (hue bias) correct so no clashing and they are simply inaccurate and inconsistent samples! I've moved to quarts now, to address some of the formula errors with the smaller samples, but it could be expen-sive!!
Well, I am going to say again, as I did on another thread, this blog helped me with color enormously:
She talks a lot about what you are calling "hue bias" in the neutrals, especially beige. Her e book was really good for me, personally, too.
It is not all about paint colors. She says useful things about not overdoing it with patterned tile and heavily patterned stone and how to get all your fixed finishes to harmonize with each other and with your paint. She talks about how wood floors are neutral like a pair of jeans but wood on vertical surfaces do need to be coordinated with your other colors. For me, she clarified so many things. I highly recommend checking it out...she charges for her e book but the blog is free and there is a lot of information there.
Hue bias and undertones are not the same thing. Typical dictionary definitions don't do either term justice. It's only when you've manipulated color in various mediums that the aha moment comes and you don't just know the difference between hue bias and undertone but you see it -- and you can leverage both when and if you need to.
Somewhat like LRV and grayscale value. Both are "value" however both different aspects of color. Also somewhat like metamerism vs. color constancy. And I could list other examples as well.
The differences in aspects that are very similar, like hue bias and undertones, are complex to understand yet not impossible to understand. The reason why in the current lexicon of color it's acceptable to call hue bias undertone, color constancy metamerism, and LRV grayscale, etc. is because few truly understand color in order to debate its finer nuances. So, terms and concepts are misfired all the time, all day every day. It can matter a lot or not at all. It matters a lot only when the color challenge is advanced and indeed challenging. It doesn't matter so much at a novice level and everyone is all kinda on the same page despite the vocabulary.
Sorry, I thought you had told me to call it hue bias with regard to architectural coatings, not undertones. I will have to read again!
Absolutely correct, snooks. Architectural coatings are not a medium that is manipulated in order to reveal and leverage undertone. The goal is one uniform, even paint film so what you have to work with is the hue bias of the masstone. It's very straightforward.
Like I said before, architectural color collections do not reference and are not organized by undertone for a reason. Decorative finishes like glazes, however, do have undertones.
Do people say undertone when it's actually hue bias? All the time. And sometimes it's easier to just go with the flow if you know what they mean than try to reprogram how people think about color.
But the problem with thinking in terms of undertone instead of masstone/hue bias is it makes crafting color schemes harder than it actually is. It's a bassackward approach to the reality of what paint *is* and how color works.
Tangier Island formula:
RL's "Brilliant-White" tint-base...RL3591(Eggshell #)
(Formula based on "48ths"/Oz. There are other systems!)
Gallon formula here.
ACE/Colortrend colorant database.
This formula would only be relevant using these colorants.
Obviously, most of the color is Yellow by proportion.
The white-base has the most "White" pigment.
Hope it helps some!
TY for the follow up Faron.
My gosh, I just realized this thread started in 2010!! And I would not change a single pixel.
I would like to point out paintguy1's post about metamerism and inconstancy on Tue, Oct 5, 10 at 8:16.
Because that post is the post that changed my mind about casually using the word metamerism. In 2010 it was quite the buzz word in color world. I knew it had been adopted out of the labs and into designer speak. But everyone else was doing it so I was too.
Until paintguy1's post. Then I quit doing it. One, because he was correct. And two, after this discussion it was difficult for me to casually overlook the misuse of the term and chronic misunderstanding of the concept. As the mass consciousness slowly gathers more and better color information, I can sense a better grasp of the difference between metamerism and inconstancy emerging. (kudos to paintguy1 for being a catalyst and part of the solution)
Wonder if the same thing will happen to the current buzz word "undertones". I have a feeling it will.
What is the issue with using the term "undertones" which I believe has been used to describe color for a very, very long time? Undertones of blue, yellow, rose (ie warm versus cool), or clear colors were used 30 years ago to determine what clothing and makeup colors were most flattering to your complexion. Art also uses the term. I think it's a pretty straightforward way of describing what we see as a basic aspect or underlying nuance of a color we're looking at -- which influences how colors relate to each other. It's a white with a little bit of yellow or a gray with a green tint to it rather than having some blue. Blue based reds versus orange based reds. Why is this term not useful in training the eye or discussion?
Here is a link that might be useful: Picture of undertone
Architectural paint isn't cosmetics or fine art paints. There are aspects of color that translate across disciplines and there are aspects that do not.
Undertone is purely subjective and hinges on individual color acuity and opinion. It is not a standard or benchmark so it's not consistent nor consistently repeatable. It's not scalable.
Like I said before undertones are applicable and useful in certain circumstances but limited to singular and individual. Like how a fine artist chooses to leverage the undertones of a limited color palette to create greater depth and interest in their work.
When working on specifying paint, then, by "hue bias" you mean a scientific measurable feature of a specific color. This could be a useful tool to help predict its effect somewhere. Similar to LRV.
For viewing, on the other hand, I think the term "undertone" is still descriptive of the effect someone sees (whether it's on a wall, piece of clothing or artist's paint color), even though it might change by environment or vary by individual (which all still must be accounted for when choosing paint).
Yeah, mostly would agree snooks.
Was trying to figure out how to explain the reason why I can not get on board with a methodology that revolves around colorants or undertones or any aspect that is not measured. Then I came across this video via facebook on YouTube. I'm going to include it in a blog post so I can expand sometime later this month.
It seems "qualia" is what I've been looking for. Although we can not color by numbers alone, color order systems give us a unified language from which to speak to color despite variances in color acuity, perceptions and experiences.
Here is a link that might be useful: Is Your Red The Same as My Red?
I'm going to stick with this thread since there seems to be a lot of knowledge here. I have asked my contractor to paint my bookcases the same color as my walls. The color on the walls is the color I want. I want the bookcases to be in semi-gloss and the walls to be flat. But now that the painting is done, the semi-gloss color does not match the flat color. The semi-gloss comes out slightly more green/yellow than the flat paint on the wall.
I have looked at the cans for both. They both say the same color on the can (HC-92 Wheeling Neutral) and on that basis the contractor says they are the same color. But the formulas are very different. (BTW, I asked for a BM color and the contractor took it to Sherwin Williams to mix the paint.)
Here is the formula for the flat paint:
Custom Manual Match
CCE*Colorant OZ 32 64 128
B1-Black - 16 1 -
R2-Maroon - 3 - 1
Y3-Deep Gold - 51 - 1
Here is the formula for the semi-gloss:
Custom Sher-Color Match
CCE*Colorant OZ 32 64 128
B1-Black - 16 - 1
R2-Maroon - 3 - 1
Y3-Deep Gold 2 10 1 -
So obviously the formulas are different. Would the formula for semi-gloss be so different from flat? How can I convince the contractor that they are not the same color?
Any thoughts and advice would be very much appreciated.
The actual color that was matched is more than likely perfect. The problem is the human eye naturally sees color and shine at the same time. One you have two sheen levels side by side, those colors will never appear the same to an untrained eye. Another question you need to ask is are both paints chemically made from the same material. A water base paint will also appear much different from an acrylic. The same can be said for oil or alkyd based products. No two paints will ever technically be exact even when you use the "same" formula. Different sheens and bases will almost always use either a different formula or different color combinations to achieve virtually the same color. Its been said a hundred times. Color is subjective and no 2 people see the exact same. Hope it helps.
Agree with Paint-matcher.
In fact, using the "same" color but in different gloss levels is a classic, sure-bet color strategy.
For example Ben Moore's Natural Wicker in semi-gloss for trim/crown/doors with matte on the walls. Totally gorgeous. Creates a near perfect near neutral atmosphere. Completely harmonious because it's the "same" color. But they look different due to the variance in gloss levels.
I don't believe I have ever seen the exact same formula for a color appply across different grades/bases and gloss levels; the formula always differs depending on the base/gloss level.
About the formula's across sheens/bases...
We have a few fandecks in our paint-dept.
(Fun-C probably has DOZENS...;-))
* Some have a color-strip showing the same color in different sheens.
* ALL of them have the same formula across the different sheen levels.
* It's surprising how different the SAME formula looks in Flat...relative to Gloss.
* Glosses always appear darker than Flats.
* Place a tsp. of water on a color-chip. You KNOW the water is CLEAR...yet the color has gotten DARKER!
* People are genuinely stumped when I show them this little trick!!
Can't believe there was a paint color called Tangier Island! I live on Tangier Island, VA. I originally found this post by Googling letters in paint formulas trying to figure out what tints went into my new paint. Now I think I really need to do at least one room in this color. Faron how would be the best way for me to try to get some. I see you wrote your formula was from the ACE color match chart. Should I find an ACE store? If you ever want to see what Tangier Island (the place) is like check out my slide show on youtube search "tangier island slide show".
BTW, Faron is right. Of course.
After this thread I started paying closer attention to formulas flat vs. gloss, etc.. (haven't had that many opportunities to be honest) But the few I've seen by golly the formulas ARE the same across different sheens.
Could've sworn they were different. Learn somethin' new every day. I heart my GW forum friends. :)
Ahhhh....this thread is back again!
(welllll....cool....I kinda like it!)
* FIRST, you have to find a Ralph-Lauren Paint Dealer.
* If it's @ an ACE dealer, the formula I posted will be relevant, unless they use more than 1 colorant line.
* Our RL formula database/software is of course, based on ACE/Chromacolor colorants.
* Few...if ANY...RL dealers would keep a separate tinter/colorants just for RL. Too damn expensive!
* It's a popular "Beige"/neutral here!
The original Tangier Island, mixed in Ralph Lauren base at Home Depot back when they carried Ralph Lauren, was a gorgeous, subtle, fairly muted gold beige. In full sunlight it goes quite a happy rich gold yellow, without much light it is more beige gold. It is versatile and livable for a rich shade in the yellow family.I still have the color in my Master Bedroom for now. Home Depot stopped carrying Ralph Lauren paint, after I painted my Master Bedroom and decided I wanted to carry the color to the living room.I did have them color match it in Behr paint....the automatic system didn't work, as I already said, so they did it manually, by eye. It was a good match but it never had quite the same richness as the original Ralph paint. I guess I have expensive taste and appreciate the subtleties, :)
I guess I will have to Google Tangier Island...I have never been there...
I have another story about color matching involving BM Satin Impervo, this happened just a few weeks ago!!! I don't have time right now but I will try to find time to post it later, it's a good one.
Does BM use "B" for black?
I have a creamy "white" custom mixed by BM that has four colors in it (their full spectrums start at 5 colors). It does not appear to have black. I'm wondering if it will perform similar to a FS (more alive in low light) without the black, even though it has a limited number of pigments.
Bought it before trying FS, so I have a gallon and really like the sample board. I don't have the formula with me. It is C, Y, W, R, I think.
The allure of full spectrum paint has a lot to do with the metaphysical angle - it's not just about beautiful paint colors engineered differently to respond to inherent light . Similar to modes of other kinds of color therapy, in which case an amount of colorant from each spectral hue is crucial to meet certain beliefs and standards about the power of color.
So just because a paint color does not have black in the mix, or uses more than 2 or 3 colors, does not a full spectrum color make.
With all that said, IMHO any time you can mix nuanced color using chords/complements as opposed to relying on black and gray to shade and tone fast and furious, you're gonna get (or engineer) prettier paint colors. Colors sans black have a different bundle of wavelengths to reflect the beams of light than colors mixed with black.
Black has its place in paint and architectural color and what it brings to the color mixing table can be leveraged too. And colors knocked back with black and gray have their own kinda muddied character that some people simply prefer.
Whether colors with less than all 7 spectral hues but no black will "perform" like full spectrum is truly a matter of opinion. But they certainly are different from colors mixed with black.
The FS Color Stories white I got only has 5 colors. White, three yellows, and a little bit of red. So I guess it flunks true full spectrum. Interesting. I do feel the color is different though and still seems to look so pretty in low light and shadow.
The 4 color white doesn't seem dulled to me. If it goes up beautiful and hits the mark with my furnishings it doesn't really matter, I just don't want to end up wanting to repaint because it goes flat in certain light.
Got the correct codes:
R1 (just a touch, assume it's red)
In every color collection there are several colors that do not have black in the formula. Again, they are not full spectrum just because there is no black in the formula. Many colors easily fall under this category.
Would it be pure marketing genius to simply sort through an existing collection of colors and pick out the ones with more than two or three colorants but no black and then proceed to call it a full spectrum palette? Maybe marketing genius but not really on the up-and-up. Then again marketing is all about spin and getting the unwitting to buy it.
But surely no respectable paint company would want to dupe it's loyal consumers in such a way as that. Simply moving over colors from one palette to another, slap a label of full spectrum upon its chips and upcharge it would not be a nice thing to do to the average consumer of color.
So then either BM is either duping us or they don't understand full spectrum! Maybe I will ask them to see what they say. Not at the store, because they seem a bit confused about the whole thing.
Wow--I found this post through a google search as I had the same question as the original poster. What a wealth of knowledge this group is! Know this thread is crazy old but just wanted to thank you all for sharing so much great information.
Three years later and it's all still true.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Thank you to everyone who posted on this thread. The information on the complexities of paint formulas is very helpful. Thanks to YesWeCan for posting the Behr paint codes. I like knowing them even if it might not be as useful as I'd hoped. I was aware that mixing Benjamin Moore colors in Behr paint isn't always accurate but it was interesting to learn why that is true. If not for budget constraints, I would love to purchase Benjamin Moore paint. The nearest Benjamin Moore store is about 30 miles away so that is an issue for me as well. Fortunately, I've had good luck mixing their colors in Behr paint.
Here is my current problem and my reason for reading this thread. I'm attempting to paint gray and white horizontal stripes on my bathroom wall. For the white, I chose BM Simply white since we will be using that color for all the trim in our house. I had the color mixed and used it to cut in on the walls. I haven't rolled it yet but I can see that it looks too bright against the tile. (The tile is white but it looks really gray next to Simply white. To avoid wasting the paint, I would like to try to re-tint it closer to the color of White Dove.
Knowing that this won't be easy to do, I called Behr instead of asking the paint mixing staff at Home Depot. They gave me their formula for White Dove but couldn't advise on what to add to the Simply White formula to make it look similar to White Dove. Can anyone help with this?
Here is the Simply White formula that is currently in the one gallon can of flat enamel:
AXL - 20/384ths LL - 16/384ths
White Dove formula
C - 3 shots plus 1/2 shot
E - 1 shot plus 1/2 shot
I - 1 shot
I'm fully aware that I may not be successful in adding the right colorants to get the White Dove color in this can. If I had to do it myself, I would guess that I would need to add less of the C to compensate for the AXL that is already in there since they're both yello but beyond that, I have no clue. Is anyone (Faron) willing to give me your best guess at how to adjust this formula? If it doesn't work, I'll just start over with a new gallon. Thanks.