After a year of hard work freieFarbe/freeColour is pleased to announce
the completion of its first major project, the "HLC Colour Atlas", which
is a truly open colour system based on mathematics and unrestricted by
copyrights or trademarks. It has been created by colour professionals
from Germany and Switzerland.
The atlas comprises the following elements:
- a printed reference (A4, ring binder) of 2040 colours, based on the
intuitive HLC colour model (Hue, Lightness, Chroma), with increments of
10 between each hue. It also includes colours that can't be reproduced
in regular CMYK workflows (spot colours). Unlike commercial products,
its colour precision is extremely high, with a DeltaE00 of 0.5, i.e.
colour differences between two copies of the atlas can only be measured
but not perceived, even by a trained eye. Each atlas is being produced
with a Fogra-certified high-end proof printer on Fogra-certified paper
by a Fogra-certified company. Each copy is also being shipped with a
production record (ISO 12647-7:2016);
- a printed introduction and usage instructions in German and English;
- colour palettes with LAB values for Adobe software (ASE format) and in
Swatchbooker's SBZ format, as well as sRGB versions for LibreOffice
(SOC), GIMP (GPL) and Scribus 1.4.x (XML). Please note that Scribus
1.5.x already includes the SBZ file, and an sRGB version is being
shipped with LibreOffice since version 5.4.x, as well as the current
officially stable Scribus 1.4.6.
- A PDF master file of the atlas with layers for different output
targets (e.g. sRGB, ISOCoatedV2);
- XSLX files with colour conversion tables and QC report;
- a CxF v.3 file which includes the colour data in spectral values.
The latter is important, because we want to enable others to create
their own reliable references without having to ask for permission or
paying licence fees. Thus, an ink manufacturer can simply load the CxF
file into its formulation software and create the correct mix for his
particular inks. Manufacturers of other colourants (e.g. paint, textile
colours or plastics) can do the same, provided their software is
supporting CxF, which is an open standard. This is also the reason for
us not to publish any mixing recipes, because all necessary data to
reliably recreate a colour are in the CxF file, so the recipes can be
created and customised by software.
Whilst the digital files are available for free download under a CC
licence, the printed reference needs to be paid for, because production
and certification are quite labour-intensive (introductory offer: EUR
99.-- until 31 March 2018, later: EUR 149.-- plus VAT and shipment
costs; see: https://shop.proof.de/index.php?language=en).
freieFarbe/freeColour are convinced that the "HLC Colour Atlas" is not
only a true and open alternative to Pantone, HKS etc., but we also think
that the very high quality standard of our printed reference will be
hard to match.
Our next step is to fill in the necessary paperwork to make this open
colour system a DIN SPEC with the German industrial standards
organisation DIN (April/May 2018). From there it will hopefully be moved
on to ISO to make it an international standard (time frame unknown).
Special credits go to Matthias Betz, Holger Everding, Jan-Peter Homann
and Eric A. Soder, who did all the heavy lifting, as well as Gregory
Pittman, who wrote a Scribus script that reduced the creation of the
print PDF for the Atlas to a matter of seconds. freieFarbe/freeColour is
also grateful to ColorLogic GmbH, Epson Deutschland GmbH and GMG GmbH &
Co KG for generous technical support. The high quality of the atlas is
owed to the producer, Proof GmbH.