How To Check Delta E Differences

Have you ever printed two copies of the same color on your home printer and had both prints come out looking slightly different? That difference is referred to as Delta E, commonly written as dE or ∆E, and it communicates exactly how different the two versions or colors are.


When you are working on a project where you need to get the color as close as humanly possible, calculating the dE will help you know if you’re within an acceptable range. Typically, a dE difference between 1 to 2.5 on a scale of 0-100 is recognizable to the average human eye.


The problem with testing colors with the human eye alone; however, is that each set of eyes perceives color differently, and the lighting in which someone is viewing a color can further affect how it is understood. But that’s only one of the issues in relying on your eyes.


Most brands and users want a tighter dE difference then just 1 to 2.5. It is recommended that when color matching, users achieve a .2 to .4 dE difference. Each of Variable’s devices can test this difference for you when paired with their corresponding mobile app.


Testing Delta E differences with the Spectro and Color Muse devices


Launch the app that correlates to the color communication device you own.


The Color Muse by Variable app for the Color Muse and Color Muse SE devices and the Spectro by Variable app for the Spectro 1 and Spectro 1 Pro devices.


If you are using a Color Muse or Color Muse SE, calibrate the device before getting started.


Set the two colors you’d like to test on a clean, flat surface.


Typically, when we are testing samples, we are testing against a standard. That is the color with which you want all the other “copies” to be most closely aligned.


Tap on the Compare feature on the bottom navigation bar within the app.


Place your device on the standard and scan the color.


Next place your device on the copy color and scan in that.


Both colors will appear on your screen with a dE reading comparing how close they are to each other.


Now that you know the dE difference, if you are unhappy with the reading, you can make adjustments to your process accordingly to achieve a tighter dE.