RAL (color space system)

RAL is a series of color matching systems used in Europe. In colloquial speech RAL refers to the RAL CLASSIC system, mainly used for varnish and powder coating.


In 1927 the german Reichsausschuß für Lieferbedingungen und Gütesicherung" (Imperial Commission for Delivery Terms and Quality Assurance) invented a collection of 40 colors under the name of "RAL 840". Prior to that date manufacturers and customers had to exchange samples to describe a tint, whereas from then on they would rely on numbers. In the 1930s the numbers were changed uniformly to four digits and the collection was renamed to "RAL 840 R" (R for revised). With tints constantly added to the collection, it was revised again in 1961 and changed to "RAL 840-HR", which consists of 210 colors and is in use to this day. In the 1960s the colors were given suplemental names to avoid confusion in case of transposed digits. As "RAL 840-HR" covered only matte paint the 1980s saw the invention of "RAL 841-GL" for glossy surfaces, limited to 193 colors. A main criteria for colors in the RAL CLASSIC collection is to be of "paramount interest". Therefore most of the colors in it are used on warning and traffic signs or are dedicated to government agencies and public services (for example: RAL 1004 - Swiss Postal Service, RAL 1021 - Austrian Postal Service, RAL 1032 - German Postal Service). The first digit relates to the shade of the color: 1-yellow, 2-orange, 3-red, 4-violet , 5-blue, 6-green, 7-grey, 8-brown, 9-black & white. The remaining digits are consecutive numbers.


This collection, which follows the naming of RAL CLASSIC, was invented in 1984. It is made up of only 3 colors (RAL 6031 - bronze, RAL 8027 - leather, RAL 9021 - tar), used by the Bundeswehr for camouflage coating.


In 1993 a new color matching system was introduced, tailored to the needs of architects, designers and advertisers. It started with 1688 colors and was revised to 1625 colors. Contrary to the preceding systems RAL DESIGN features no names and its numbering follows a scheme based on the CIELAB color space. Each color is represented by 7 digits, grouped in a triple and 2 pairs, representing hue, brightness and saturation. The colors of RAL CLASSIC and RAL DESIGN do not intersect.

ee also

* Federal Standard 595
* BS Color Standards
* Natural Color System
* Pantone

External links

* [http://www.ral.de/en/ral_farben/home/index.php RAL Colors Home Page (English)]
* [http://www.ral.de/de/ral_farben/home/index.php RAL Colors Home Page (deutsch)]
* [http://www.ral.de/en/ral_farben/anwender/farbnamen_classic.php multilingual (DE,EN,FR,ES,IT,NL) list of RAL Classic colors (English)]
* [http://www.ral.de/de/ral_farben/anwender/farbnamen_classic.php multilingual (DE,EN,FR,ES,IT,NL) list of RAL Classic colors (deutsch)]
* [http://www.indfinspec.demon.co.uk/ral_colour_chart.htm web approximation of RAL Classic Color Chart]
* [http://stroyhim.com/ral.html web approximation of RAL Classic Color Chart (Russian)]
* [http://www.indfinspec.demon.co.uk/bs_381c_colour_chart.htm web approximation of BS 381C Color Chart enhanced with matching digital RGB values]
* [http://www.indfinspec.demon.co.uk/bs_4800_colour_chart.htm web approximation of BS 4800 Color Chart]
* [http://www.melack.se/eng/ral.asp On-line RAL calculator]
* [http://www.unitedcomposites.net/jointpages/RALcolours.htm fairly accurate samples for flat screen monitors]
** [http://www.unitedcomposites.net/jointpages/PDFfiles/RALcolours.pdf the same in a PDF file]

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