Color is a visual sensory impression. A human can distinguish about 10 million different shades of color. With color models or systems, we try to categorize and describe colors. Leonardo da Vinci theorized about color, as did the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in his work, The Theory of Color. He was mainly concerned with the effects of color, which later served as the foundation of the psychology of color. Goethe proposed six primary colors (purple, orange, yellow, green, blue and reddish blue), which overlap forming a continual color wheel. However, Goethe never developed an actual color system.

Johannes Itten represented the colors in a color wheel, similar to Goethe, in 1961. The Bauhaus art instructor arranged yellow, red and blue opposite their complementary colors violet, green and orange. He described black and white as ‘non-colors’. The theory of the Seven Color Contrasts, which was originally developed by his teacher, Adolf Hölzel, and later worked out by Itten, is still taught today in many art and design schools. The color designer, Peter Zoernack, used the Itten color system to develop the color system for the DLW linoleum collection in 2008. The Marmorette pattern incorporates the various hues in the color wheel in three lightness levels. These hues can be harmoniously combined within a color, with its complementary color or within a brightness level.

One of the few globally used and standardized color systems is the Natural Color System (NCS), which is based on the human perception of color. The Scandinavian Colour Institute in Stockholm has the rights to the NCS System. The Natural Color System is based on the four primary colors yellow (Y), green (G), red (R) and blue (B), which are perceived as ‘pure’. In a color wheel, yellow and blue, and red and green are arranged across from each other, like the cardinal points on a compass. The other colors are defined as mixed colors between the pure colors. The achromatic colors black and white are also added creating a three-dimensional double cone, the center of which contains the color wheel with the chromatic colors. Moving toward the poles of the double cone, the mixtures approach pure white at the top and black at the bottom. This three-dimensional model is also called the NCS Colour Space. The color notation is divided into two parts: the first part indicates the degree of blackness and the chromaticness, the second part the position on the color wheel. For example: NCS 1050 – Y90R. 1050 means 10% blackness, 50% chromaticness, Y90R yellow with 90% red.