Understanding the Color Numbers

Federal Standard 595B Color Numbering System

Each FS 595 color is identified by a five-digit code. Colors in the standard are not to be referenced without giving the five-digit code, otherwise the reference is ambiguous. The colors in the standard have no official names.

3 5 2 3 1
Finish Predominate Code

First Digit

The first digit of the color number indicates the color at a level or degree of gloss. The colors are divided only into three generalized finishes; gloss, semi—gloss and flat. For ease in judging the color matching the color number closest in gloss to that required should be specified.

The first digit can be 1,2 or 3, indicating the level of sheen:

First digit Finish Gloss level (0-100)
1 Gloss 80 or higher
2 Semi-gloss 30 - 45
3 Flat or Lusterless 6 or lower

Note that the existence of a color chip 1xxxx in the Federal Standard specification doesn't imply that there is a color chip for 3xxxx. Indeed, it is something of a curiosity that in the 595B fan deck some color shades are represented twice or even three times - as gloss, semi-gloss and flat, while other occur only as flat or only as gloss. Why it is so remains a mystery, but it is an awkward reminder that the origin of each chip has been actual paint used somewhere for some purpose. In practice, this peculiarity makes the FS fan deck difficult to browse.

In practice, references to such “ virtual” chips built on the principle “same color, but different sheen” have become a widespread norm. This color server follows the same practice, so any color in the FS 595B range can be requested either as 1-, 2-, or 3-. Of course, level of sheen cannot be reproduced on computer screen, so each of the three searches will render the same result.

Second Digit

The second digit of the color number indicates an arbitrarily selected color classification grouping.

Second digit Predominate
0 Brown
1 Red
2 Orange
3 Yellow
4 Green
5 Blue
6 Gray
7 Miscellaneous (whites, blacks etc.)
8 Fluorescent

Last Three Digits

The last three digits of the color number are assigned in the approximate order of increasing reflectance, meaning the percent of incident light reflected from a colored area, where zero percent reflectance is black and 100 percent is white.

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