Skip navigation
Currently Being Moderated

ANSI Z535.1 Safety Colors in Frame

Feb 21, 2011 7:56 AM

Frame 7.1 Solaris (Frame 9 Win7 available).


Although the manuals I work on are print-published only in grayscale (600 dpi bitmap, actually), we make them available on the web as PDFs (which could be in color). At some point in the future, we may publish in color (probably using Xerox or HP laser engines).


For recent works, we've been using color, where convenient, and just leaving it enabled in the PDFs. For lack of a more compelling model, the color space chosen is sRGB. Those users exposed to color are most likely viewing the PDF on a computer, or printing it on their own inkjet or color laser printer.

A portion of the color content is graphic panels for DANGER/WARNING/CAUTION/NOTICE, and representation of product decals and labels of those same hazard classes.

The dominant market is U.S. domestic, so we follow ANSI standards for these admonishments. The ANSI standards include color specifications (ANSI Z535.1-2006) for safety notcies. The colors used in our manuals are only Red, Orange, Yellow, Blue at present.

Z535.1 specifies these colors in Munsell HVC and CIE 1931 xyY illuminant C coordinates. Most of the ANSI colors are out of gamut for sRGB.

The ANSI colors are realisable as printable spot colors on decals and product labels, but ANSI did not address how to render them in typical document printing. (Actually, the spec claims to provide Pantone equivalents, but does not.)

So, the spec colors can't be matched in normal printing from a random PDF viewer to a random color printer.

Well, we can at least pick something and be consistent, so the safety colors all have the same appearance within our documents, and perhaps match hue to safety spec.

Frame's color library, the Munsell Library of Colors or the Munsell High Chroma, has some of the Munsell values for ANSI patches, but they look awful, probably due to the [unspecified] choice of rendering intent in the mapping of library colors to the RGB/CMYK/HLS values actually used. And, of course, Frame has no color management to speak of, so the RGB/CMYK/HLS values are uncalibrated.

There may exist professional tables of Munsell/sRGB matchings ('s Munsell lab seems to have misplaced theirs during their web revamp), but this has a similar problem: what was the rendering intent during the mapping? Typically, conversions try to preserve some color difference between nearby out-of-gamut colors. I don't care about that. I want to get as close as possible to the ANSI colors in sRGB space, and I want to at least match hue (no "blue turns purple").

Any number of web sites purport to have RGB values for these colors, but they are even more vague about how they arrived at them, so they usually disagree from one site to the next.

There are lots of tools that perform CIE to sRGB conversions, but they are similarly challenged in the matter of intent (plus whether they accounted for the wandering of hue as you attempt to scale chroma in models other than Munsell).

What I probably need is the limiting sRGB value of the same hue as the Munsell value for the ANSI spec color.

Using BabelColor, I experimented with sRGB values until I could obtain:


* a match for the Hue


* a match (or a within-ANSI-tolerance) for Value.


* as close as possible for Chroma.


What I came up with is at the end of this post.


These colors will be entering the manuals as objects from Photoshop and Illustrator primarily, typically RGB EPS images, tagged as sRGB with embedded profiles. Some might be created in Frame directly, and as long as:


    "Tag Everything for Color Management"


with a working space of:
    sRGB IEC61966-2.1


is specified during Distiller, the resulting colors in PDF seem to match regardless of source.

What is everyone else doing about this?



Z535.1.Blue _________________
ANSI Munsell: 2.5PB 3.5 / 10
Nearest sRGB: 2.5PB 3.5 / 7.9
RGB(255):     000   089   137
RGB(100%)     0.0  34.9  53.7

Z535.1.Orange ________________
ANSI Munsell: 5.0YR 6.0 / 15
Nearest sRGB: 5.0YR 6.0 / 12.7
RGB(255):     222   125   000
RGB(100%)    87.0  49.0   0.0

Z535.1.Red ___________________
ANSI Munsell: 7.5R  4.0 / 14
Nearest sRGB: 7.5R  4.0 / 13.6
RGB(255):     187   039   036
RGB(100%)    73.3  15.3  14.1

Z535.1.Yellow ________________
ANSI Munsell: 5.0Y  8.0 / 12
Nearest sRGB: 5.0Y  8.1 / 11.6
RGB(255):     239   203   000
RGB(100%)    93.7  79.6   0.0


Values harmonized for ISO 3864-1:2002 would be nice too.

  • Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 21, 2011 1:38 PM   in reply to Error7103

       "Tag Everything for Color Management"


    I can't tell you anything about the Munsell colors, but you might want

    to check that setting for color management. It seems like I had set that

    once and all my black text came out as RGB text, instead of K. For the

    Web, that would be no big deal, but for printing it sets up fuzzy text

    problems from misaligned ink layers. You might want to use "Tag Only

    Images for Color Management" instead. In Acrobat X, you can check the

    text using View> Tools> Print Production> Output Preview, and then hover

    your cursor over the text to see what inks are being used.

    Mark as:
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 25, 2011 9:57 AM   in reply to Error7103

    Internally, FrameMaker uses RGB (CMYK colors created in FrameMaker are converted to RGB), but only for the things it creates, such as text. If your color is in the graphics, create them in Illustrator (or other drawing program) in CMYK, using the PMS as needed. THen save them in eps. When FrameMaker prints a document with imported by reference eps files, it simply passes them through to the print output. Then you can deal with the color in the PDF.


    If you need colored text in FrameMaker that matches the CMYK, you can try creating your own inks for FrameMaker to use. Even though you have to specify the RGB, you can do it to a high degree of accuracy. If you search this forum, there should be some discussions about it.

    Mark as:
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 25, 2011 12:37 PM   in reply to Error7103

    I do not use color management, so am not conversant in all its particulars. But how about using a program such as Illustrator or Photoshop. Set its RGB to sRGB. Then pick a Pantone color and use the program's conversion to convert to RGB. Presumably these programs know how to manage color.

    Mark as:
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 25, 2011 2:06 PM   in reply to Error7103
    function(){return A.apply(null,[this].concat($A(arguments)))}

    Error7103 wrote:


    Is Frame still jamming to RGB in later versions on Windows that support CMYK?


    There really is no version that supports CMYK directly. The GDI imaging model is totally RGB (and actually a make believe sRGB which is really monitor RGB). Don't confuse support of CMYK in XPS as Windows really supporting CMYK and spot colors.


    Also, internally, FrameMaker does indeed support both RGB and CMYK color definitions. The problem is that for the traditional output path using Windows drivers, it must do an internal conversion of CMYK and spot colors to RGB.


              - Dov

    Mark as:
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 29, 2013 9:03 AM   in reply to Error7103

    I was googling this exact same question today, two years on. Disappointed to see that no real definitive answer got given! Why doesn't FrameMaker have built-in presets for these colours? It's such a basic requirement!

    Mark as:
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 29, 2013 9:04 AM   in reply to feline_1973

    Also, do Windows 7 and 8 really still use the "GDI" imaging API from Windows 3.0? Still? In the year 2013? I'm skeptical.....

    Mark as:
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 29, 2013 10:16 AM   in reply to feline_1973

    It sounds like you've got definitions like that for applications other than Fm... is that correct?


    As Error mentioned, there are far too many variables to allow Fm to supply "official" colors for those things.


    Among the problems are the screen representations, which differ based upon *your* choice of paper (if indeed you're outputting to paper), or your end user's choice of paper to print upon. I'm sure you already know that you'll never get online and print representations to match, simply due to the different gamuts used for different color models.


    I'd wager that your industry has "official" Pantone or other color model definitions for things, which allow you to define colors as needed from Fm's supplied color models.


    If you want to include *your* perfect definitions for *your* application, you could always add those definitions to the maker.ini file.

    Mark as:
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 29, 2013 11:15 AM   in reply to mattrsullivan

    matt, if all Adobe's other Creative Suite applications can do colour management, why can't FrameMaker? Is £1800 for a Tech Comm Suite license not enough?


    Also, nobody prints onto paper *from* FrameMaker: they author in it and publish to PDF and all the rest. That being the case, all I want is a way to specify a standard colour definition (e.g. a Pantone or whatever) in FrameMaker that is going to make it straight into the PDF without being d1cked about with, and then it's up to Acrobat and the printer driver to fight it out if and when ink ever hits paper. The vast majority of FrameMaker users are producing tech docs for businesses who have a marketing team who specify branding colours in that kind of way, or (as in this example) they're specified by a standards body such as the IEC.  It's a no brainer.



    Personally I lost patience with all this "colour management" voodoo about a decade ago already. Like many tech writers, I'm not dumb - I have a science background. Colour management just involves applying a transfer function to a bunch of numbers, to get a reasonable answer. Time and again, the transfer function they're using is obfuscated under the hood and it patently gives stoopid results (blue turning purple, etc etc)  Am sick of Adobe mumbling about how it's complicated in an attempt to cover the fact that their software sucks.

    Mark as:
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 29, 2013 12:54 PM   in reply to feline_1973



    Clearly we're discussing different topics. Color management wasn't even mentioned in the post I replied to.


    Based on your tone and tenor, I don't feel the need to participate.


    Best of luck enticing others.

    Mark as:
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 29, 2013 1:18 PM   in reply to mattrsullivan

    That's OK matt, if you can't even reply to the right thread, I doubt you were going to be much help in re-writing FrameMaker's entire codebase anyways



    Meanwhile, if I'm not allowed to become exasperated at zero lack of progress in improving FrameMaker's colour management in the last 15 years, then I'll go to the foot of our stairs.



    Error7103, I don't really see how "complicated" it can be, it's just a few equations! A few radio buttons on a well-worded dialog somewhere to let us choose the right equations wouldn't break the bank, would it?



    I mean, I just want to be be able to enter a colour and it stay the same in the PDF.
    Can you imagine if things were like this with text?
    "Sorry, I know you typed 'bread', we we've changed it to 'bagel' in the PDF. It's complicated. You have to realise some of the people reading the output might be Canadian. Some of them might even be *French* Canadian. And the people in No.12 have never even sat on CHAIRS before!" etc etc.
    Oh dear.

    Mark as:
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 29, 2013 3:38 PM   in reply to feline_1973

    That's OK matt, if you can't even reply to the right thread, I doubt you were going to be much help in re-writing FrameMaker's entire codebase anyways


    Winning friends, influencing people...


    You complained about standardizing colors across 4/c, spot, and online formats. I quite accurately explained why you are out of your depth.


    The existence of a mind-boggling number of PANTONE libraries speaks to the fact that color calibration / management are different than color definitions and rendering intent.


    What application can you point to that does what you require?

    Mark as:
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 30, 2013 1:45 AM   in reply to mattrsullivan

    If by "mind-boggling number" you mean "about 12", then we agree

    Mark as:
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 30, 2013 11:06 PM   in reply to feline_1973

    off-thread link specially for feline_1973 – prompted by a phrase in this eloquent posting – but perhaps of use/interest to others who want to brighten up a dull layout test. I like the text substitution idea! Breadcake, barm-cake, bap, stottie … t'Lipsum

    Mark as:

More Like This

  • Retrieving data ...

Bookmarked By (0)

Answers + Points = Status

  • 10 points awarded for Correct Answers
  • 5 points awarded for Helpful Answers
  • 10,000+ points
  • 1,001-10,000 points
  • 501-1,000 points
  • 5-500 points