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For the purposes of this chapter, color may be defined as the perception or subjective response by an observer to the objective stimulus of radiant energy in the visible spectrum extending over the range 400 nm to 700 nm in wavelength. Perceived color is a function of three variables: spectral properties of the object, both absorptive and reflective; spectral properties of the source of illumination; and visual characteristics of the observer.
Two objects are said to have a color match for a particular source of illumination when an observer cannot detect a color difference. Where a pair of objects exhibit a color match for one source of illumination and not another, they constitute a metameric pair. Color matches of two objects occur for all sources of illumination if the absorption and reflectance spectra of the two objects are identical.
Achromicity or colorlessness is one extreme of any color scale for transmission of light. It implies the complete absence of color, and therefore the visible spectrum of the object lacks absorbances. For practical purposes, the observer in this case perceives little if any absorption taking place in the visible spectrum.

Color Attributes—
Because the sensation of color has both a subjective and an objective part, color cannot be described solely in spectrophotometric terms. The common attributes of color therefore cannot be given a one-to-one correspondence with spectral terminology.
Three attributes are commonly used to identify a color: (1) hue, or the quality by which one color family is distinguished from another, such as red, yellow, blue, green, and intermediate terms; (2) value, or the quality that distinguishes a light color from a dark one; and (3) chroma, or the quality that distinguishes a strong color from a weak one, or the extent to which a color differs from a gray of the same value.
The three attributes of color may be used to define a three-dimensional color space in which any color is located by its coordinates. The color space chosen is a visually uniform one if the geometric distance between two colors in the color space is directly a measure of the color distance between them. Cylindrical coordinates are often conveniently chosen:
Points along the long axis represent value from dark to light or black to white and have indeterminate hue and no chroma. Focusing on a cross-section perpendicular to the value axis, hue is determined by the angle about the long axis and chroma is determined by the distance from the long axis. Red, yellow, green, blue, purple, and intermediate hues are given by different angles. Colors along a radius of a cross-section have the same hue, which become more intense farther out. For example, colorless or achromic water has indeterminate hue, high value, and no chroma. If a colored solute is added, the water takes on a particular hue. As more is added, the color becomes darker, more intense, or deeper; i.e., the chroma generally increases and value decreases. If, however, the solute is a neutral color, i.e., gray, the value decreases, no increase in chroma is observed, and the hue remains indeterminate.
Laboratory spectroscopic measurements can be converted to measurements of the three color attributes. Spectroscopic results for three chosen lights or stimuli are weighted by three distribution functions to yield the tristimulus values, X, Y, Z (see Color—Instrumental Measurement 1061). The distribution functions were determined in color matching experiments with human subjects.
The tristimulus values are not coordinates in a visually uniform color space; however, several transformations have been proposed that are close to being uniform, one of which is given in the chapter cited 1061 Color—Instrumental Measurement. The value is often a function of only the Y value. Obtaining uniformity in the chroma-hue subspace has been less satisfactory. In a practical sense, this means in visual color comparison that if two objects differ significantly in hue, deciding which has a higher chroma becomes difficult. This points out the importance of matching standard to sample color as closely as possible, especially for the attributes of hue and chroma.

Color Determination and Standards—
The perception of color and color matches is dependent on conditions of viewing and illumination. Determinations should be made using diffuse, uniform illumination under conditions that reduce shadows and nonspectral reflectance to a minimum. The surface of powders should be smoothed with gentle pressure so that a planar surface free from irregularities is presented. Liquids should be compared in matched color-comparison tubes, against a white background. If results are found to vary with illumination, those obtained in natural or artificial daylight are to be considered correct. Instead of visual determination, a suitable instrumental method may be used.
Colors of standards should be as close as possible to those of test specimens for quantifying color differences. Standards for opaque materials are available as sets of color chips that are arranged in a visually uniform space.* Standards identified by a letter for matching the colors of fluids can be prepared according to the accompanying table. To prepare the matching fluid required, pipet the prescribed volumes of the colorimetric test solutions [see under Colorimetric Solutions (CS) in the section Reagents, Indicators, and Solutions] and water into one of the matching containers, and mix the solution in the container. Make the comparison as directed in the individual monograph, under the viewing conditions previously described. The matching fluids, or other combinations of the colorimetric solutions, may be used in very low concentrations to measure deviation from achromicity.
Matching Fluids
Matching Fluid Parts of
Cobaltous Chloride CS
Parts of
Chloride CS
Parts of
Sulfate CS
Parts of Water
A 0.1 0.4 0.1 4.4
B 0.3 0.9 0.3 3.5
C 0.1 0.6 0.1 4.2
D 0.3 0.6 0.4 3.7
E 0.4 1.2 0.3 3.1
F 0.3 1.2 0.0 3.5
G 0.5 1.2 0.2 3.1
H 0.2 1.5 0.0 3.3
I 0.4 2.2 0.1 2.3
J 0.4 3.5 0.1 1.0
K 0.5 4.5 0.0 0.0
L 0.8 3.8 0.1 0.3
M 0.1 2.0 0.1 2.8
N 0.0 4.9 0.1 0.0
O 0.1 4.8 0.1 0.0
P 0.2 0.4 0.1 4.3
Q 0.2 0.3 0.1 4.4
R 0.3 0.4 0.2 4.1
S 0.2 0.1 0.0 4.7
T 0.5 0.5 0.4 3.6

*  Collections of color chips, arranged according to hue, value, and chroma in a visually uniform space and suitable for use in color designation of specimens by visual matching are available from GretagMacbeth LLC, 617 Little Britain Road, New Windsor, NY 12553-6148.

Auxiliary Information—
Staff Liaison : Antonio Hernandez-Cardoso, B.S., Scientist, Latin American Specialist
Expert Committee : (GC05) General Chapters 05
USP29–NF24 Page 2651
Phone Number : 1-301-816-8308