Color reference in Federal Standard

Discussion in 'Tips, Tutorials & Tools' started by Boris, Apr 13, 2004.

  1. Boris

    Boris Member

    Hello dear modellists!!
    I would like to ask if there is a connection , or ,maybe , some kind of reference charts between Photoshop's color chooser and something that is called a "Federal Standard" (I have Photoshop 6.0 )
    I understood that our fellows , plastic model builders , use this standard to describe color and to mix , if necessarily , colors to get an exact color and hue .
    I'll be very glad to hear ( actually read :) ) your answer because now I'm kind of stuck in my new repaint work - the israeli F-4E Phantom
  2. Gil

    Gil Active Member


    Try here:

    Be careful with mixing color and computers..., what you see isn't exactly what someone else will see on the other end of the internet. This is still a problem and especially so for card modeling. Federal Standard 595b is a good start. Hope everyone bookmarks this site..., Ron, this should be part of the resource deck for everyone.

    Best regards, Gil

    P.S. Peter Long, a personal friend, took best of show in the IPMS Western Regional Contest held in Fresno several weeks ago with his rendition of a Yom Kippur war F-4E. The model is going to Mr. Tamiya and will be on permanent display at Tamiya HQs in Japan. Small World indeed.
  3. Boris

    Boris Member

    Thank you very much, Gil . This is exactly what I was looking for.
    I do know a lot about colors in Photoshop and in real life but at least I have something to start from.
    Thanks again
  4. Darth_Nerdious

    Darth_Nerdious New Member

    Are there pictures of this F-4E on the net?


  5. Gil

    Gil Active Member

    It might be on the Tamiya site..., it was pictured in Fine Scale Modeler several issues back.

    Best, Gil
  6. wunwinglow

    wunwinglow Active Member

    ... I get different colour prints just by using different brands of paper! Sorry, but there is no easy answer to this problem, what you see on your monitor, what you scan in your scanner, what you print out are essentially specific to your set-up! There are ways of calibrating equipment against standard colour sets, but even the way computers produce colour (RGB, CMY, CMYK, etc) cannot accurately replicate solid pigments. The best you can do is get it to look right, for your equipment. Guaranteed, 100%, there will be others using identical equipment, printing out exactly the same file, and they will get differing results. And those using different equipment? They have next to no chance of producing matching output.

    The only option is to be pragmatic about the subject, keep the colours clean and hope they will not drift too much!

  7. Gil

    Gil Active Member


    Having a standard that lists the color and it's RGB or CMYK values is still a good starting point. You're right about 192 R, 183 G, and 96 B looking OK on my screen but not so on someone elses.

    The only real solution is for everyone to own the colorbook standard which is cumbersome and expensive.

    I seem to remember that one of the model supply companies also published a color chip book (was it Testor's?). This would at least be a place to start if the cost isn't to prohibitive. Maybe Tamiya has a color chip book avalailable? Now to get from the paint chip into the filled area in a model in any paint package on any display or printing equipment..., and on the cheap!

    Comments all?

    Best regards, Gil
  8. rowiac

    rowiac Member

    Gil et al,

    I had posted a link to the FS595B site you mentioned in the Links area under Reference at the old site after I found it, and here too after the new site got underway. It's easy to forget that the Links area is there, but it can be handy.

    There's also one other (working) color reference link there that might be useful:


  9. Gil

    Gil Active Member


    Great site...., need to visit the links page more often.

    The problem remains as before, though, how to make an exact color match. Psycopictorics (science of the human visual system) has a lot of subtlety regarding how humans perceive color..., color chips are still the standard. I theorize that getting within +/- 5% is good, under +/- 3% very good and under +/- 1% excellent. In terms of the RGB model with a scale of 0 to 255 for each color this translates to around +/- 13, +/- 8 and
    +/- 3. The human eye is much more sensitive to grayscale than color hue and it's more important to match than hue atlthough the eye is most sensitive to green, then red and least of all blue. Most of the information carried in luminance is that within the green color band (based on the Suns visible spectrum output). So it's no big surprise that land based schemes use shades of green A LOT! Sea based schemes tend toward GRAY not BLUE! Sky based schemes tend toward GRAY not BLUE! Seems that there just might be a trend here!

    So what does this mean for card model designers? It implies that getting the grayscale levels right is more important than hue followed by getting the correct hue of Green followed in importance by Red and Blue. The color mixes between the primaries are Cyan, Majenta and Yellow. Again Green is in betwen Cyan and Yellow meaning that these two colors become secondary in importance to hue matching as it was with Green. Majenta, Red and Blue being the least important to hue match correctly as regards human color perception. The designer should keep these relationships in mind when rendering their designs. Using FS595B as the guide will go a long way in providing a fair amount of standard color match even if the overall output gamut is not constrained (in other words your printer isn't capable of printing a close facsimile of what appears on your display screen).

    Sorry for the length but this is an important concept for all of us to understand and use appropriately.

    Best regards, Gil
  10. rowiac

    rowiac Member


    Yes, color matching is definitely a very complicated subject. And as Tim alluded to earlier, the type of paper you're printing on can make a huge difference in the color output.

    I wanted to get some ICC color profiles for my new Canon printer, and that's when I discovered you really need a different profile for each type of paper, and for each brand of ink, if you aren't using the OEM ink. That means there could be zillions of permutations of color profiles needed.

    Some places will create specific profiles for you for about $50. Otherwise, you can buy the equipment to measure the color and create your own profiles for about $250 (I think). [For those who don't know, ICC color profiles are files used by programs like Photoshop to match colors between your screen display and the printed output.]

    The problem then is that only your PC/printer is calibrated and this doesn't help anyone else trying to print your files, unless they use the exact same paper/printer/ink and get the profile from you.

    Since I don't want to deal with all that complication and expense, I've simply calibrated my monitor using the Adobe Gamma function that comes with Photoshop to get a baseline, and then I try to make the colors look as correct as possible by eyeballing them on the screen. I can then tweak my printer settings if needed the get the best match between screen and print.

    It's not the most elegant method, but it has worked OK so far.

    One thing I did notice though, is that Red River Paper has some Epson and Canon color profiles available for free for their papers (

  11. NOBI

    NOBI Active Member

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