How To Find the Perfect Paint Color Without Chips or Samples

I bet you read the title of this post and thought “no freaking way.” Well, Camp Chroma and I have some good news for you – yes, there is a way to find the perfect paint color without searching through paint chips or shuffling through a stack of hand-painted color samples. Truth is, especially with virtual color consultations, I don’t even pick up a fandeck until the very end of the consultation.

That’s because I know how to read – and apply – color numbers. When I say color numbers, I know you know what I’m talking about because whether you’re a color enthusiast or color professional we’ve all been to the same websites full of colorful information — and shockingly full of numbers too. The website is an excellent example. Having corresponded with the team behind this website, I can tell you that it’s one you can trust. They were proud to share with me their process and standards for measuring paint colors. They should be proud because they’re doing it right.

So, in your Google travels looking for color information you’ve no doubt stumbled on to and clicked your way to pages that look like this:

camp chroma cedar green slide 1

camp chroma cedar green slide 2

Some look at all those letters and numbers and your eyes glaze over because, hey, it’s overwhelming! Whether you’re good with numbers or not, this is A LOT for anyone to take in. If you’ve felt intimidated visiting websites like, you are not alone. I have been there too, but trust me when I say it is so, so easy to overcome. All you need is someone to explain all those numbers and letters in plain, simple language.

What if I told you that once you understand how to read and use the abundance of free and quality color information out there you could significantly lessen how much you shuffle through stacks of paint samples? What if I told you that you could take one look at a color’s spectral data and immediately know about its grayness? What if I told you that light reflectance value (LRV) is right there in the middle of all this information and you don’t have to go rustle up a fandeck to search for LRV in the index?

Maybe more important than teaching you what values (color numbers) are helpful in choosing architectural paint colors, is teaching you what information you don’t need, what you can ignore. What no one tells you is detailed color data like you see above is used by many industries, like graphic design and printing, and not all of it applies to color for the built environment.

But. . . what does apply to architectural color and the built environment is incredibly powerful. Powerful because if you know how to use it, you will not only save a bunch of time but you will be boatloads more confident in the accuracy of your color opinion.

Have you found LRV yet? LRV is CIE Y or could say Y = LRV. You round LRV up to two digits, no decimals (generally). Also, keep in mind that LRV for a color might differ source to source; you have to allow some variance for differences in samples and equipment. On average it’s just a few points, like 5 at the most, give or take.

Interested in learning how to work with color like a real color expert? No gimmicks or complicated methods to memorize? Over at Camp Chroma Online Color Training we focus on the fundamentals. Simple, direct, time-tested fundamentals of how color works.

Go to Camp Chroma now and sign up. We start new students the following Monday after they enroll. New lessons will post every Monday after that for seven more weeks.

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