Color Match Lighting: Light Sources and Use in Color Matching

Lighting conditions greatly influence color perception. Because proofing colors in their actual end-use environment is not always possible, there are specific approaches that designers, brand owners, manufacturers, and production employees can utilize to ensure that a print’s colors match under every light source. As a result, by adopting color match lighting, all stakeholders have various simple options at their disposal.

What Does Color Match Lighting Mean?

Color matching is the process of expressing a specific color across several technologies or platforms. This could not be easy when the two technologies use different color modeling tools. Color matching is crucial in applications like desktop publishing and creating accurate digital displays.

Various Light Sources and Their Use in Color Matching

Because the look of an object is heavily influenced by the light source and the environment in which it is viewed, proper lighting is required for accurate color matching. Popular light sources used in color matching programs include daylight, retail, and domestic light.

All stakeholders in a supply chain must evaluate color under a consistent light source to interact with one another regardless of the type of lighting used. The industry has adopted international color viewing standards to help achieve this goal.

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When does Color Match Lighting Matter Most?

When does Color Match Lighting Matters Most
When does Color Match Lighting Matters Most

The two primary standards are ISO 3664:2009 and ASTM D1729. ISO 3664:2009, which specifies the D50 daylight viewing condition, is used in the graphic arts and photography industries. Many industrial color applications, such as plastics, paints, coatings, and textiles, have adopted ASTM D1729, which specifies D65 as the direct daylight viewing condition, and other sources as supplemental sources for metamerism detection. Different standards such as SAE J361 and BS-950 Part 2 are used in rare circumstances.

Metamerism occurs when two colors match one lighting condition but not another. This can be a difficult task for manufacturers, emphasizing the importance of testing colors and color matching under spectrally varied light sources in addition to the daylight source specified by your industry’s requirements.

Conditions that Affect Color Appearance

Conditions that Affect Color Appearance
Conditions that Affect Color Appearance

According to industry standards, viewing conditions must meet exact criteria in color quality, light intensity, lighting evenness, viewing/illumination geometry, and surrounding states. Color appearance can be affected by any of these factors. The best way to accomplish these requirements is to use a color viewing booth that meets industry standards.

GTI’s industry-compliant product options include desktop viewers, floor stand models, and color harmony rooms. The industrial color and graphic arts industries offer a diverse range of products.

Without lamps, any viewing environment is incomplete. GTI’s Graphiclite 100 5000K viewing lamps and ColorMatcher 6500K Color Matching Lamps are developed for color viewing stations and color matching booths and offer the most accurate match to industry-standard curves.

The lamps are produced with a proprietary fluorescent phosphor blend with a natural full-spectrum white light that correctly and effectively represents colors. These lights are more color accurate and more closely comply with the viewing standard than competitor lamps. All of our products use GTI lights, and each one comes with a certificate of product conformity (NIST traceable).

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What Lighting Is Best For Viewing Colours Accurately?

What Lighting Is Best For Viewing Colours Accurately
What Lighting Is Best For Viewing Colours Accurately

Fluorescent illumination is employed in most locations where monitors are used to judge color. This is good because some fluorescent lighting is suitable for working with paint, but some aren’t, so it’s crucial to know what kind of fluorescent light you’re dealing with.

When colors on an LCD screen are compared to colors on paper, the bulk of fluorescent lights marketed to the general public have extremely biased light spectra, making them unsuitable for colorwork. For example, when viewed under the wrong type of fluorescent light, precisely written colors can appear greenish.

High color rendering fluorescent lamps or fluorescent lights for color evaluation are fluorescent lights that are excellent for dealing with color.

The light spectrum of these lamps is remarkably similar to that of the sun, and there is very little difference between an LCD monitor screen, printed paper, and how people perceive color.

The International Commission on Illumination (CIE) advises fluorescent lighting with a Ra of 90 or higher in contexts where color is evaluated. Thus the Ra value of the light you’re working with is significant. The average color-rendering index (Ra) is a metric for assessing quality (color rendering describes the color an object appears to have under a particular light). When illumination is assigned a Ra value of 100, it signifies precisely natural light.

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Special Colour Matching Tools and Technologies

Special Colour Matching Tools and Technologies
Special Colour Matching Tools and Technologies

Spectrophotometers and Pantone’s Lighting Indicator stickers, to name two technical tools for color matching, circumvent the limitations of human sight. Spectrophotometers are color measurement instruments that can determine the light reflected from an item at each wavelength or wavelength range, including wavelengths visible to the naked eye. Pantone’s Lighting Indicator stickers are another approach to remove the guesswork out of color matching. They tell you whether your viewing settings are suitable for accurate color evaluation, specification, and matching under standardized lighting. All you have to do now is compare the stickers to a design or manufacturing file. Colors that match imply that your lighting is optimal.


Good color characteristics are typically considered more significant than lamp efficacy in many lighting applications, including households, restaurants, and retail businesses. The color appearance of a light source is regarded as the essential color performance parameter by lighting specifiers. As a result, color-matching lighting is critical. Light intensity is just as crucial as a lamp’s color rendering properties; many non-monochromatic light sources can render colors well at high light levels, but no light source can cause stains well at deficient light levels.