Naming ColorsThe summer sky--is it vivid blue? Or is it ultramarine blue, cerulean blue, bonnie blue, sevres, bradley's blue, methyl blue, rood's blue, or spectrum? The human eye can discern millions of colors, and the human imagination has come up with thousands of names for them.
For people making HTML pages or style sheets, there are two fixed sets of standard color names--the 16 named colors and the Scalable Vector Graphics named colors. Outside of these color sets, a variety of colors with different values can be identified. What about the color names?
The Inter-Society Color Council (ISCC) and the the United States Department of Commerce's National Bureau of Standards (NBS) (now called the National Institute of Standards and Technology) created a method, called the ISCC-NBS Method of Designating Colors, as a flexible, yet comprehensive color naming system. The ISCC-NBS Method corresponds to the Universal Color Language, Level 3 and identifies 267 color blocks, each of which identifies a range of colors (COLOR Universal Language and Dictionary of Names (listed in Links)).
The table below shows swatches of color in block #176, Vivid Blue. The swatches show the Munsell notation for the color in the form Hue Value/Chroma above the hexadecimal code for the color. The color samples are prepared using Munsell Renotation Data from the Munsell Color Science Laboratory, Rochester Institute of Technology. You can see a chart of other UCL Level 3 colors and names.
In the UCL, Level 3, all of these colors can be called, "Vivid Blue," block 176:
Synonymous and Near-Synonymous Color Names With Their Sample Identification for Block 176, Vivid BlueThe UCL Level 3 names are useful for general use in a variety of applications. As a cross-index, COLOR (p. 67), provides a list of color names as near synonyms to the 267 blocks of UCL Level 3 colors. Here are near-synonyms for block 176 colors from a variety of sources:
- Maerz and Paul, Dictionary of Color, 1st edition. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1930.
- Alexandria Blue, Armenian Blue, Bonnie Blue, Caeruleum, Cerulean Blue, Coeruleum, Ch'ing, Cleopatra, Cloisonné, Cyanine Blue, Directoire Blue, Egyptian Blue, Genuine Ultramarine (Blue), Hathor, and Leitch's Blue
- Plochere, G. and G. Plochere. Plochere Color System, A guide to Color and Color Harmony. Los Angeles: Fox Printing, 1948.
- Bonnie Blue and Sevres
- Ridway, Robert. Color Standards and Color Nomenclature. Washington DC: 1912.
- Bradley's Blue, Methyl Blue, Rood's Blue, Spectrum Blue, and Ultramarine Blue
- Taylor, H. D., L. Knoche, and W. Granville, Descriptive Color Names Dictionary. Chicago, Container Corporation of America, 1950.
- Bright Blue g, Deep Blue g, Royal Blue gm, Sapphire Blue g, and Ultramarine gm
- Textile Color Card Association, Standard Color Card of America and U.S. Army Color Card
- Ultramarine blue (USA)
- Other sources
- Atrolazulinus, Bright Blue, Bright Ultramarine, Cobalt Blue, Deep Blue, Deep Ultramarine, Enamel blue, Lazulinus, Oriental Blue, Spectrum Blue, and Ultramarine