Defining and Communicating Color: The CIELAB System

06/2014

We are surrounded by an infinite number of colors that individuals perceive differently and which can be described quite subjectively. Precise communication of the colors that we see, and of those which we desire to reproduce, requires objective color definition standards, exacting numeric measurement systems, and universal communication protocol. This article will briefly survey fundamental color perception theory which forms the foundation of three dimensional colorimetry (the science of measuring color), introduce the device independent CIE color models1, and then discuss the CIELAB color characterization system—universally used in all facets of the graphic arts.