Optics of Metallic and Pearlescent Colors

Optics of Metallic and Pearlescent Colors


Key Terms

  • Pearlescent
  • Metallic
  • Luster Pigment
  • Color Travel Pigment
  • Interference Pigment
  • Angle Dependent Colors
  • Structural Colors
  • Effect Pigments
  • Goniochromatic
  • Iridescence
  • Refraction
  • Reflection
  • Transmittance
  • Gloss
  • Diffraction
  • Interference
  • Refractive Index
  • Isotropic
  • Anisotropic
  • Illuminating and viewing geometries
  • Bidirectional Reflectance Distribution Function (BRDF)
  • Bidirectional Scatter Distribution Function (BSDF)
  • CIE tristimulus values
  • Multiangle spectrophotometers
  • D65, A, and F11 illuminants
  • CIEDE2000 color differences
  • CAM02-SCD
  • CIELAB color differences
  • Illuminating and viewing geometries
  • Color appearance of metallic coatings
  • Aluminum-flake pigments
  • Spectral radiance factors
  • Spectro Goniophotometers
  • Goniospectrometers
  • Thin Film Interference
  • Flop Control Agent
  • Specular Reflection

Source: Pearlescent Pigments


4. Layered Pearlescent Pigments

The dominant class of Pearlescent Pigments is represented by natural mica coated with thin films of different metal oxides[2]Mica based pigments were firstly developed in the 1970s and got accelerated until 1990s when multilayer systems on mica were successfully realized. Natural muscovite mica is a rather inexpensive crystal and it can be easily cleaved to thinner flakes of typically 250 nm. These advantages made mica-based pigments quickly monopolize the special effect pigment market, until reaching 90% of the whole market. This pigment is easily produced by the deposition of metal oxide layers on the mica surface[2]. TiO2 or iron oxide covered mica pigments can be easily produced with a high thickness control, but sometimes they show limited optical properties[10]. Mica-based pigments with multilayers show pronounced angle dependence, but they are heavier respect to other pearlescent pigment types, thus leading to a higher pigment content required to reach a certain colour strength[11][12][13]. There are many emerging substrate-based pigments, different from the ones based on mica substrates, that show interesting optical properties. Pigments based on silica flakes (SiO2) are easily produced in a very controlled and uniform thickness by the web-coating process[5]. The thickness of silica flakes is in the order of 400 nm, comparable to that of mica particles, and it can be tailored be so narrow to become itself an optical layer. These pigments allow obtaining a high chromatic strength and special colour travel effects, useful for automotive applications, decorative plastics and security inks[14]Alumina (Al2O3) based pigments represent another type of emerging pearlescent pigment[5]. This pigment type has got strong pearlescent effect respect to mica-based pigments mainly due to its high aspect ratio and narrow thickness distribution, as it happens for silica-based pigments.  In addition to that, alumina-based pigments exhibit unique crystal-like effect (sparkle effect), mainly due to their smooth surface and chemical purity, thus being interesting for high-duty decorative purposes, such as car paints[2]. The study recently published by our group study the effect of the addition of alumina-based pigments on the durability of powder coatings. The pearlescent pigments taken under consideration were supplied by Merck S.p.A (Darmstadt, Germany). Figure 2 shows an SEM image of one of the pigments used in this study. 

In order to be complete, it necessary to mention the presence of other substrate-based pigments such as pigments based on glass flakes and aluminium flakes. Pigments based on glass substrates play a minor role in the market because they are very thick and show limited optical properties, apart from special applications. Pigments base on aluminium flakes are produced via CVD processes and show an interesting angle-dependent colour changing, but the variety of colours available is limited to gold, orange and reddish metal-like colours.


Source: Photo-realistic Rendering of Metallic Car Paint from Image-Based Measurements

Source: QCV Korea

Source: QCV Korea

Source: QCV Korea

Source: QCV Korea

Source: CCM System for Metallic and Pearlescent Colors

Types of Metallic and Pearlescent Pigments

( Composition Based)

Source: Effect pigments—past, present and future

Effect pigments without a layer structure—substrate-free pigments
  • Metal effect pigments
    • Flakes or lamellae of
      • aluminum (“aluminum bronzes”)
      • copper
      • copper-zinc alloys (“gold bronzes”)
      • zinc
      • other metals
  • Natural pearl essence
  • Basic lead carbonate
  • Bismuth oxychloride
  • Micaceous iron oxide
  • Titanium dioxide flakes
  • Flaky organic pigments
  • Pigments based on liquid crystal polymers

Substrate based, Pearlescent Pigments, Layered
  • Mica Based
  • Alumina Based
  • Silica Flakes based
  • Glass Flakes Based
  • Iron Oxide Flakes Based
  • Graphite Flakes Based
  • Aluminum Flakes Based
Multilayer structures of the Fabry–Perot type

Structural arrangements consisting of alternating thin metal and dielectric layers can be used to achieve strong angle-dependent optical effects, e.g., in form of so-called optically variable pigments (OVP) [5,12]. Different color shifts can be produced by precisely controlled thickness of the multilayers. The metal layers consist in most cases of chromium (semitransparent absorber layers on the top and the bottom of a five-layer system) and of aluminum (opaque reflector layer in the center of the layer structure). The dielectric layers in between the chromium and aluminum layers consist mostly of magnesium fluoride or silicon dioxide. Such layer systems are the basis for an optical interference phenomenon called Fabry–Perot effect, which is different from interference effects of transparent layer systems because of the complete reflection of the light at the opaque reflector layer. Symmetrical arrangements of at least five layers are necessary to achieve strong color-shifting effects. In the case of pigments, only the five-layer systems play a role for practical use.

Effect pigments—past, present and future

Source: Industrial Inorganic Pigments / Edited by G. Buxbaum and G. Pfaff

Source: Industrial Inorganic Pigments / Edited by G. Buxbaum and G. Pfaff

Types based on Optics

  • Multiple Reflection
  • Refractive Pigments
  • Interference Pigments
  • Diffraction Pigments
  • Holographic Pigments

Source: Fascinating displays of colour
Effect pigments – A successful interplay of chemistry and physics

Source: Ceramic Coatings for Pigments

Special Effects Pigments

( Luster Pigments)

  • Pearl luster pigments
    • Pearlescent pigments
    • Nacreous pigments
    • Interference pigments
  • Metal effect pigments.

All these pigments consist of small thin platelets that show strong lustrous effects when oriented in parallel alignment in application systems (e.g. in paints, plastics, printing inks, cosmetic formulations).

Source: Inorganic Pigments/Gerhard Pfaff

Source: Pearlescent PIGMENTS in Coatings A Primer

Source: Pearlescent PIGMENTS in Coatings A Primer

Source: Pearlescent PIGMENTS in Coatings A Primer

Source: Pearlescent PIGMENTS in Coatings A Primer

Source: Pearlescent PIGMENTS in Coatings A Primer

Effect Pigments Producers

  • Altana AG 
  • BASF SE 
  • Cabot Corporation 
  • Carlfors Burk AB 
  • Clariant AG 
  • Dainichiseika Color & Chemicals Mfg. Co. Ltd 
  • Dayglo Color Corp. 
  • Dic Corporation 
  • E.I. Du Pont De Nemours and Company 
  • Ferro Corporation 
  • Flint Group Pigments 
  • Geotech International B.V. 
  • Huntsman Corporation 
  • Kobo Products Inc. 
  • Kolortek Co., Ltd 
  • Merck KGaA 
  • Mono Pigment Developments Ltd. 
  • Nemoto & Co., Ltd. 
  • Sensient Industrial Colors 
  • Siberline Manufacturing Co. Inc 
  • Special Effects & Coatings 
  • Sudarshan Chemical Industries 
  • The Chemours Company 
  • Toyal Europe
  • Toyocolor Co., Ltd.

GeoTech Pearlescent Pigments

Industrial Application of Effect Pigments

Source: https://www.emdgroup.com/en/company.html

  • Coatings and Paints
  • Printing
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Plastics
  • Cosmetics
  • Food
  • Pharma
  • Architecture
  • Automotives
  • Ceramics and Glass

Decorative Papers

  • Pearlescent Effect
  • Metallic Effect
  • Shimmer Effect
  • Texture (Linen) Effect

Pearlescent Effect

Source: Amazon Germany

Pearlescent Effect

Source: Amazon Germany

Metalic Effect

Source: Amazon Germany

Metallic Effect

Source: Amazon Germany

Shimmer Effect

Source: Amazon Germany

Linen Effect

Source: Amazon Germany

List of some commercially available papers


Source: https://netuno.pl/en/130-metalizowane-perlowe

  • Majestic – Italian papermills -Favini
  • Sirio Pearl – Italian papermills – Fedrigoni
  • Cocktail
  • Constellation Jade
  • Galaxy
  • Curious Matallics
  • Astrosilver
  • Stardream
  • Aster Metallic

Source: AMAZON Germany

  • Sirio Pearl A4 Paper with Metallic Effect, 125 g, Ideal for Weddings, Christmas, Greeting Cards
  • 10 x A4 Gold Peregrina Real Gold Pearlescent Effect Paper 120gsm Double Sided Suitable for Inkjet and Laser Printers
  • 20 x A4 QUARZO Pale Ivory Flower Heart Majestic Double-Sided Pearlescent Paper 120 g/m² for Inkjet and Laser Printers
  • 20 x A4 QUARZO Pale Ivory Flower Heart Majestic Double-Sided Pearlescent Paper 120 g/m² for Inkjet and Laser Printers
  • Syntego A4 Rose Gold Pearlescent Decorative 120gsm Double Sided Paper
  • Syntego A4 Gold Pearlescent Single Sided Card 300gsm Purple (10 Sheets)
  • Syntego 10 Sheets Ivory A4 Card with Pink Pearlescent Shimmer Decorative Single Sided 300gsm
  • A4 Pink Pearlescent Gold Card 300gsm Rose
  • 10 x A4 Petals Pink Peregrina Majestic Pearlescent Shimmer Paper Double Sided 120gsm Suitable for Inkjet and Laser Printers
  • Synthetic Ego Peregrina Pearlescent Paper, A4, 120 g/m², suitable for inkjet/Laser Printers – Blue (Pack of 10)
  • Synthetic Ego 20 Sheets of A4 Baby Pink and Baby Blue Pearlescent Card Double Sided 120 g/m² for Inkjet and Laser Printers Pack of 10)
  • A4 Paper Sea Blue Pearlescent Paper 100 g/m² for Inkjet and Laser Printers
  • 10 x A4 Fresh Mint Green Peregrina Majestic Pearlescent Shimmer Paper Double Sided 120gsm Suitable for Inkjet and Laser Printers
  • 10 x A4 Nightclub Purple Peregrina Majestic Pearlescent Shimmer Paper Double Sided 120gsm Suitable for Inkjet and Laser Printers
  • Syntego A4 Gold Pearlescent Single Sided Card 300gsm Magenta 10 Sheets
  • Sirio Pearl A4 Paper with Metallic Effect, 125 g, Ideal for Weddings, Christmas, Greeting Cards
  • Netuno x Sheets Pearlescent Azure Blue A4 210 x 297 mm Majestic Damask Blue
  • Netuno x Sheets Pearlescent Silver Paper DIN A4 210 x 297 mm Majestic Moonlight Silver
  • Sirio Pearl Red Fever 10 x Sheets of Pearlescent Red 300 g Paper DIN A4 210 x 297 mm Ideal for Weddings, Birthdays, Christmas, Invitations, Diplomas,…
  • 10 Sheets of Mother of Pearl Gold 290 g Cardboard DIN A4 210 x 297 mm Cocktail Mai Tai, Ideal for Wedding, Birthday, Christmas, Invitations, Diplomas, Arts…
  • 10 x A4 Frost White Pearlescent Shimmer Paper 120gsm Suitable for Inkjet and Laser Printers (PIA4-5)
  • A4 Pink Pearlescent Gold Card 300gsm Rose
  • Netuno x Sheets Pearlescent Dark Blue Paper DIN A4 210 x 297 mm Majestic Kings Blue
  • Nettuno Oltremare, 10 sheets, blue cardboard, 215 g, felt marked on both sides, with line structure, DIN A4, 210 x 297 mm, ideal for wedding, birthday,…
  • 25 Sheets Light Green Coloured Card DIN A4 210 x 297 mm 210 g Sirio Colour Lime, Ideal for Weddings, Birthdays, Christmas, Invitations, Diplomas, Business Cards, Scrapbooking, Crafts and Decorating
  • 10 x A4 Pearlescent Intense Shine Mellow Gold Paper 120 g/m² Double Sided For Inkjet and Laser Printers
  • A4 Paper Sea Blue Pearlescent Paper 100 g/m² for Inkjet and Laser Printers
  • 20 Sheets A4 Maya Blue Pearlescent Paper 100gsm for Inkjet and Laser Printers
  • 20 x A4 Printer Paper Damask Majestic Light Blue Double-sided Peregrina Pearl 120 g/m², suitable for inkjet and laser printers
  • Syntego 10 Sheets Pale Purple Pearlescent Double Sided A4 Decorative Card 300gsm
  • 10 x A4 Frost White Pearlescent Shimmer Paper 120gsm Suitable for Inkjet and Laser Printers (PIA4-5)
  • A4 Pearlised Purple Periwinkle Paper 100 g/m² for Inkjet and Laser Printers
  • 10 x A4 Nightclub Purple Peregrina Majestic Pearlescent Shimmer Paper Double Sided 120gsm Suitable for Inkjet and Laser Printers
  • Syntego A4 Gold Pearlescent Single Sided Card 300gsm Magenta 10 Sheets
  • 10 x A4 Gold Peregrina Real Gold Pearlescent Effect Paper 120gsm Double Sided Suitable for Inkjet and Laser Printers


Source: Merck KGaA

  • Black Color Pigments
  • Color Luster Pigments
  • Color Travel Pigments
  • Gold Pigments
  • Interference Pigments
  • Metallic Color Luster Pigments
  • Silverwhite Pigments

Automotive Paints

Automotive Coatings: Creating Excitement with Effect Pigments

By Cynthia Challener, CoatingsTech Contributing Writer

Regardless of the end-use application, special effect pigments provide a differentiated appearance. That is certainly true in the automotive industry, where they are used in coatings applied to both the interior and exterior of vehicles. Shifts in customer color and appearance preferences drive the use and development of effect pigments, as do developments in coatings technology and application processes. High sparkle finishes and intensely chromatic colors on car bodies and mirror-like finishes on interior components are increasing in popularity and driving the use of glass flakes, colored aluminums, and aluminum pigments with a much finer particle size. Pigments also need to provide the same appearance in coatings with thinner and/or fewer layers while exhibiting increased durability.

Creating a Unique Look

Coatings formulators work directly with pigment suppliers to develop and commercialize new specialty effect pigments to generate exciting color spaces that accentuate the bodylines of new vehicles. Effect pigments are the fastest growing segment of the high performance pigment market, and in 2015 were present in 70% and 65% of automotive colors for new builds in the Americas and Europe, respectively, according to Jane Harrington, manager of color styling with PPG Automotive OEM Coatings. “While neutral colors such as white, black, and silvers still dominate most of the automotive color palette, deep, rich, highly chromatic blues, greens, oranges, and reds have begun to find their place in the automotive world as well,” says Jason Kuhla, manager of technical service & product application with Silberline Manufacturing. “Special effect pigments that provide brilliance and ‘pop’ can help to create a look that stands out among the sea of color monotony, and appeal to those consumers who wish to stand apart from the crowd,” he adds. Allen Brown, advanced development and mastering manager in the Color and Material Design group of Ford Motor Company, agrees that while there will always be niche colors for special applications, overall there seems to be a balancing of colors to round out a complete selection, with a shift away from achromatic colors to a more sophisticated, balanced palette. For some applications, designers are seeking to create a value-added appearance by increasing the brilliance and reflectivity of metallic finishes while maintaining a smooth, non-sparkling appearance, according to Michael T. Venturini, global marketing manager, Coatings, Sun Chemical Performance Pigments.

Effect pigments are the fastest growing segment
of the high performance pigment market, and in 2015
were present in 70% and 65% of automotive colors
for new builds in the Americas and Europe . . . .

To achieve the desired appearance, most pigment flakes must be oriented in a specific manner within the coating. Their particle size also impacts the way they interact with light; larger particles provide more sparkle and iridescence, but the dimensions are limited to avoid impacts on gloss and other appearance properties. The industry is pushing the limits in this area, according to Paul Czornij, technical manager with the Color Excellence Group of BASF Coatings, and is seeking as much coarseness as the color can allow yet still providing a smooth and glossy look. The rheology of effect pigments, particularly in high solids, solvent-based systems, also influences their final appearance properties. On the other hand, there is a desire for smoother glass-like finishes, which has led to greater use of finer particle sizes to help deliver a quality liquid appearance in many colors, according to Brown. However, smoother finishes that give strong travel (bright face and dark side-tone) are difficult to achieve with electrostatic bell application (preferred for its greater transfer efficiency), which tends to make flakes stand up and give a more granular appearance, according to John Book, product line manager with Viavi. “Smaller particle sizes and size distributions also have a negative impact on color capability and metallic orientation, so such advances are far from simple,” asserts Frank Maimone, manager of pigment and color technology for the Color Development group of PPG Automotive OEM Coatings.

The shape of the vehicle has a significant impact on which effect pigments are used. For instance, fine/bright effect pigments that give coatings brightness with higher travel are preferred for vehicles that have a more interesting, free-flowing form, while for trucks, which are more slab-sided, coatings with more sparkle are frequently used, according to Jerry Koenigsmark,* who was manager of technical color design for PPG Automotive Coatings in North America. “For many of the new car designs targeting a younger consumer base, there is a push towards highly chromatic colors that employ colored aluminum pigments, mica pigments, glass flakes, and interference pigments,” says Kuhla. He also notes a shift in the wheel coatings market, where black is becoming more popular at the expense of traditional silvers.

Fast sports car moving with blur

For car interior trim parts, chrome-like coatings are used to create a value-added look and add haptic properties to simple plastic and other components. Auto parts and accessories (APA) also tend to be dominated by silvers, and many of these coatings contain pigments manufactured using physical vapor deposition (PVD) processes. In addition, many interior coatings are intended to provide attractive haptic properties. Because they are often single-layer systems, the effect pigments must have high resistance to body oils, perspiration, lotions, cosmetics, and other chemicals, according to Jörg Krames, vice president for global key account management with Eckart. He also notes, in these applications, liquid coatings compete with powder coatings and alternative technologies such as in-mold decoration with foils.

Finding Functional and Sustainable Solutions

Numerous other factors influence the choice of effect coatings beyond the appearance a designer wishes to create. In addition to provoking an emotional response in car buyers, effect pigments are often expected to serve multiple additional functions, according to Krames. The functional performance will be dictated by the type of coating and coating application systems. For external coatings, the compact application processes (primerless coating systems, three-coat/one-bake, integrated processes) widely used today on exterior car bodies involve the application of only a basecoat and topcoat over the e-coat. “Effect pigments in these systems must provide hiding power and exhibit high chemical-, moisture-, and UV-resistance properties in order to protect the e-coat,” he says. In addition, coating formulations now have higher pigment concentrations in smaller volumes, and the coating layers are either thinner or the flash times are eliminated. “Both scenarios have a negative impact on coating appearance and require extensive reformulation of coatings to meet end-use expectations,” notes Thomas A. Cook, global manager for color and process technologies with PPG Automotive OEM Coatings.

The trend towards thinner coatings has driven the development of new low-aspect-ratio effect pigment particles like colored, thin silver-dollar aluminum pigments that deliver brilliant metallic luster in high-chroma hues with good hiding and gloss. Generally, the use of smaller particle sizes will provide a smoother appearance with good gloss. However, to achieve the most chromatic colored effects and good flop behavior, manufacturers must consistently deliver highly optimized particle size distributions, comments Mike Crosby, market segment manager for BASF’s Global Automotive/OEM Pigments Business Unit. New lightweight substrates have surface-roughness and adhesion issues that also require coating reformulation, according to Bill Eibon, director of technology acquisitions for PPG Automotive OEM Coatings. On a positive note, Brown points out that ultra-smooth primers have helped to achieve a better glass-like appearance by creating a smoother base on which to paint.


Such integrated processes are just one response by the automotive industry to improve sustainability, reduce the use of hazardous materials and its carbon footprint, and meet increasing governmental regulatory requirements—all while ensuring outstanding value and consumer satisfaction, according to Czornij. “These imperatives are driving innovation and change, and even as formulations and applications change, effect pigments must continue to afford durable coatings that are aesthetically pleasing and in alignment with trends in color popularity,” he asserts. The ongoing switch to water-based coatings is another key driver of effect pigment development. The goal has been to achieve highly brilliant products with identical optical properties as those of solvent-based and nontreated pigments, according to Mark Stoll, global head of marketing & technical service with Eckart. Although stability issues with aluminum pigments in waterborne formulations have, in general, been resolved with silica encapsulation technology, Venturini notes that the increasing adoption of waterborne coatings continues to drive pigment innovation as producers seek more efficient ways to better stabilize their pigments and make them easier to use.

Additional important trends noted by Book include the incorporation of effect pigments in the clearcoat, where historically they have only been used in the basecoat. This application is commonly referred to as tinted clearcoats. “Increased color saturation and depth are achieved when effect pigments are present in the basecoat and finely milled organic pigments are added to the clearcoat,” he says. The effect is enhanced when new nanoscale pigments with increased dispersion saturation are used in the tinted clearcoats, according to Brown. “These systems have allowed us to achieve color spaces not obtainable in the past, such as our Ruby Red on the Ford Fusion and Burgundy Velvet on the Lincoln MKZ. Both colors were created using ANDARO® effect pigments from PPG. However, as with other recent development, these finishes are not easily applied or repaired, and OEMs are looking for alternative two-coat solutions that can replicate this look,” according to Book. PPG color experts would like to see durable dye-like systems with ultra-high transparency for use in both solvent-based and water-based coatings, as well as thinner flakes to minimize the number of clearcoat layers needed to bury the finish. Book does note that new colored aluminum pigments can create a tinted clearcoat appearance that is much easier to apply and repair.

Advances in Pigment Technology

In addition to the development of effect pigments already mentioned, pigment manufacturers have responded to changing coatings formulation and application trends and technologies with a variety of technology advances of their own. Dieter Marquardt, manager of color matching, Europe, with PPG Automotive OEM Coatings notes two key advances. The first is process improvements in the manufacturing of synthetic micas that make them more affordable and will drive a shift away from natural micas and lead to the development of more chromatic colors and improved appearance. The second is new processes to generate colored aluminums based on inorganic layers and brighter aluminum feedstocks that offer stylists higher chroma and color saturation. Thin, silver-dollar colored aluminum pigments are producing new and attractive color spaces with dramatic chroma and travel characteristics. Colored aluminum pigments also enable styling of rich, chromatic colors at a lower pigment loading than a combination of traditional silver aluminum silver dollars with absorption pigments. They can therefore deliver good hiding with excellent gloss, even in thin-film automotive coatings, according to Crosby. Meanwhile, the process of depositing different layering systems on pigment cores has driven the introduction of more dramatic effects such as better color travel and more sparkle, according to Gareth Hughes, director of Americas Technology for PPG Automotive Refinish. “The use of multiple layer stacks to optimize light travel and interference in pearlescent pigments is a major contributor to the new high-impact colors you see today,” Crosby agrees.


Kuhla sums it up best: “High chroma, multilayer effect pigments, newer shades of colored aluminum flake, and glass flake pigments have given color formulators the tools they need to achieve head-turning color shades that excite consumers and inspire pigment research to dig even deeper into what variations of these new technologies can yield. From the high-sparkle glitz of glass flakes to the eye-appealing, high opacity of colored aluminums, recent developments are giving formulators the ability to make colors that dazzle.”

It should also be noted that for many of the challenges facing automotive coating formulators working with effect pigments, effective solutions are often achieved with the use of additives. “At Eckart, we have found it hugely beneficial to have direct access to additive technologies through Altana’s BYK division. Cooperative development of effect pigments and additives makes it possible to develop higher-performance products,” Krames remarks.

There are limitations of effect technology that pigment manufacturers, coating formulators, and car makers continue to work to address. Many are related to the coating application process. “We are challenged by the effect on flake orientation from bell application, and there is a need for improvement in aluminum travel through equipment, formulation, and flake technology,” says Maimone. There is also a need for an alternative to vacuum metalized aluminum pigments that can produce a liquid metal effect or highly brilliant mirror-like finish using conventional application technology, according to Venturini. “Even with vacuum metalized pigments, specific low-solids paint technology and a highly specialized, skilled application process must be used to achieve the desired appearance,” he adds. As a result, the number and types of end-use applications are limited—chrome-like wheel finishes are one example. “Simplification of the process would open the door to a wider range of applications,” asserts Venturini. Ford would like to see one-layer specialty “liquid” and anodized coatings that meet all specifications without the need for a clearcoat, according to Brown.

High chroma, multilayer effect pigments, newer shades of colored aluminum flake, and glass flake pigments have given color formulators the tools they need to achieve head-turning color shades that excite consumers and inspire pigment research to dig even deeper into what variations of these new technologies can yield.

Mike Jones, paint material engineer with Ford’s Vehicle Operations unit, notes that, in general, coatings with effect pigments can be more difficult to apply than coatings with traditional pigments, but the process is manageable. Color-shifting pigments pose the greatest challenge. “The color changes at different angles, and it can be difficult to achieve the same type of changes on all components of a vehicle, largely due to vehicle geometry and the use of different application equipment and/or process conditions at the different component suppliers,” he explains. There is, in fact, a general need to be more consistent with application processes for all coatings that contain effect pigments, according to Jones. “These coatings are not as forgiving as paints containing traditional pigments,” he says. Jones has also seen issues with the application of coatings containing aluminum pigments created using PVD. Krames adds that the ability to combine PVD with electrostatic spray application is a major focus of research for the automotive industry.

There are, in fact, a number of fascinating new effect technologies under development with potential for use in the automotive industry in the distant future. Pigments that have switchable functionality or that incorporate photocatalytic TiO2 are just two of the innovations Eckart is investigating. Eckart is also developing effect pigments for improved heat insulation and better corrosion protection, as well as pigments that have multiple functionality. Viavi, meanwhile, is developing a new pigment effect that draws inspiration from the natural surface of a moth’s eye. This very fine structure creates a blue-green glow when viewed in retro-reflection, according to Book.

Ford is paying close attention to potential legislation related to infrared (IR) requirements in California and a few other states. “The California Air Resource Board (CARB) rules may require specification of the amount of IR energy absorbed by a vehicle in order to help regulate the temperature in the interior and thus reduce the size of the air-conditioning unit and increase mileage,” Brown explains. There is also interest in the use of effect pigments in marketing strategies. Book raises the concept of paid colors. “Premium colors have been available in the luxury segment for some time. OEM’s are also now more frequently offering modestly priced special option colors on economy cars. As a result, it is becoming an increasingly difficult challenge to maintain an appearance difference for luxury cars, leading to more innovation in pigment and coating technologies,” he notes. Brown is also interested in specialty pigments that are tailored to represent a specific brand.
Whatever the driving forces, continued development of interesting effect pigment technologies can be expected going forward. “PPG receives a lot of unique special-effects requests from young automotive designers, so I think there will be some exciting things happening in the future in exterior auto paints, according to Koenigsmark.”*

*Jerry Koenigsmark, who was Manager of Technical Color Design for PPG Automotive OEM Coatings in North America, passed away in December 2015 after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. He had worked for PPG for over 30 years. Jerry’s color expertise, creativity and passion for cars will be missed by the global automotive industry, and his impact on automotive color design will live on in future model years.

Measurement and Testing of Metallic and Pearlescent Colors

Source: Photonics Measures the Quality of Automotive Paint

The automotive industry has not yet chosen standards for the angles for these measurements, but several manufacturers produce multiangle color-measuring instruments:

• Konica Minolta Business Solutions USA Inc. of Ramsey, N.J., makes the CM-512m3 spectrophotometer for the measurement of metallic colors. It illuminates a painted surface at angles of 25°, 45° and 75° to the normal, and observes at a fixed 0° angle. The portable instrument measures the surface temperature at the same time as the color, because many paints change color with temperature, an effect called thermochromism.

• X-Rite Inc. of Grandville, Mich., offers the MA68II multiangle spectrophotometer. The device has a fixed angle of illumination at 45° to the surface normal and five angles of observation: Relative to the angle of specular reflection and moving toward the angle of incidence, the viewing angles are 15°, 25°, 45°, 75° and 110°.

• Standox GmbH of Wuppertal, Germany, produces a five-angle spectrophotometer called Genius+ to measure the color of metallic and pearlescent paints. Software assists in the selection of matching paint formulations.

• GretagMacbeth AG of Regensdorf, Switzerland, and New Windsor, N.Y., makes a series of instruments with fixed 45° illumination and four angles of observation. The Auto-Eye 640 measures light reflected at 15° to the specular, and at 45°, 75° and 110°, and the 641 uses 20° in place of 15° (Figure 6). The 642 uses 25°. These portable multiangle spectrophotometers cope with slightly curved surfaces by means of a large aperture (the 642 illuminates a 14-mm-diameter circle) and three contact sensors that ensure that the instrument is normal to the surface at the center of the sensors. The device is primed for measurement when all the sensors make contact.

• Datacolor of Lawrenceville, N.J., offers a meter with 10 sets of illumination and viewing geometries. The Datacolor FX10 measures the light reflected at 10-nm intervals through the visible spectrum and has bi-directional measurement geometry.

Source: CCM System for Metallic and Pearlescent Colors

Source: CCM System for Metallic and Pearlescent Colors

Source: CCM System for Metallic and Pearlescent Colors

Source: CCM System for Metallic and Pearlescent Colors

Modelling and Prediction of Colors of Metallic and Pearlescent Coatings

It is very difficult to model appearance of metallic and pearlescent colors. Some attempts have been made but it is still an active area of research.

Some models have been developed for paint layers.

Some rendering models have been developed in computer graphics area using BRDF and BTF.

Source: Modeling the appearance of special effect pigment coatings

Source: Modeling the appearance of special effect pigment coatings

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Key Sources of Research




Pearlescent pigments in printing

  • April 2018
  • Conference: Innovations in Publishing, Printing and Multimedia Technologies


Ivana Tomic

Sandra Dedijer

Ivan Pintier


Effect pigments—past, present and future

F. J. MaileG. PfaffP. Reynders

Published 2005

Progress in Organic Coatings

Pearlescent Pigments: history, properties and application in powder coatings

Francesca Russo
Published 2020


Colorimetric and spectral evaluation of the optical anisotropy of metallic and pearlescent samples


Use of effect pigments for quality enhancement of offset printed specialty papers

M. DebeljakA. Hladnik, +1 author D. Gregor-Svetec

Published 2013

Color Research and Application

Review of instrumental inter‐agreement study of spectral and colorimetric data of commercial multiangle spectrophotometers

E. PeralesBàrbara Micó-Vicent, +3 authors Yuta Yamanoi

Published 2019

Color Research and Application


On Visual Attractiveness of Anisotropic Effect Coatings

J. Filip, M. Kolafová

Method and matrix for measuring the colour gamut of a gonio-apparent coating


A General Framework for Pearlescent Materials

IBÓN GUILLÉN, Universidad de Zaragoza – I3A
JULIO MARCO, Universidad de Zaragoza – I3A
DIEGO GUTIERREZ, Universidad de Zaragoza – I3A
WENZEL JAKOB, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
ADRIAN JARABO, Universidad de Zaragoza – I3A and Centro Universitario de la Defensa Zaragoza

ACM Trans. Graph., Vol. 39, No. 6, Article 253. Publication date: December 2020.



A Physically‐based Appearance Model for Special Effect Pigments

J. GuoYanjun Chen, +1 author Jingui Pan

Published 2018

Computer Graphics Forum


Influence of pearlescent pigments on light-fastness of water-based flexographic inks

Warsaw University of Technology, Faculty of Production Engineering, Institute of Mechanics and Printing, Department of Printing Technology, 2 Konwiktorska Street, 00-217, Warsaw, Poland

Dyes and Pigments
Volume 138, March 2017, Pages 119-128


Iridescent Color: From Nature to the Painter’s Palette

Franziska Schenk and Andrew Parker
Posted Online April 11, 2011

Volume 44 | Issue 2 | April 2011 

Recent advances in the biomimicry of structural colours.

A. DumanlıT. Savin

Published 2016

Chemical Society reviews

Biomimetics, color, and the arts

F. Schenk

Published in Smart Structures 2015


Goniospectrometric space curve for coatings with special effect pigments.

N. RogeljM. K. Gunde

Published 2016

Applied optics


Color changing effects with anisotropic halftone prints on metal

P. PjanicR. Hersch

Published 2015

ACM Trans. Graph.


Color representation and interpretation of special effect coatings.

A. FerreroE. Perales, +4 authors A. Pons

Published 2014

Journal of the Optical Society of America. A,


Evolution of the Automotive Body Coating Process—A Review

Nelson K. AkafuahSadegh Poozesh, +3 authors K. Saito

Published 2016

THE Coatings

Color prediction of metallic coatings from measurements at common geometries in portable multiangle spectrophotometers

Heng FengHaisong Xu, +1 author Zhehong Wang

Published 2018

Journal of Coatings Technology and Research



Properties and application of luster pigments

W. OstertagN. Mronga

Published 1995


Pigments, Inorganic, 6. Luster Pigments

G. PfaffK. Franz, +2 authors R. Besold

Published 2009

Materials Science



Tomić, I., Dedijer, S., Pinćjer, I.

University of Novi Sad



US10,173,449B2 DeMondt

Date of Patent: Jan.8,2019

(71) Aplicant:AGFAGRAPHICSNV,Mortsel(BE)

(72) Inventor: Roel DeMondt, Mortsel(BE)
(73) Asigne:AGFANV,Mortsel(BE)

Geotech Special Effects Pigments


Color characterization of coatings with diffraction pigments 

A. Ferrero, B. Bernad, J. Campos, E. Perales, J. L. Velázquez, and F. M. Martínez-Verdú

Journal of the Optical Society of America AVol. 33,Issue 10,pp. 1978-1988(2016)


Global color estimation of special-effect coatings from measurements by commercially available portable multiangle spectrophotometers

A. Ferrero,1,* J. Campos,1 E. Perales,2 F. M. Martínez-Verdú,2 I. van der Lans,3 and E. Kirchner3

Received September 2, 2014; accepted October 29, 2014;
posted November 7, 2014 (Doc. ID 220195); published December 3, 2014

Vol. 32, No. 1 / January 2015 / J. Opt. Soc. Am. A

Measuring and specifying goniochromatic colors

Alejandro Ferrero1, Joaquín Campos1, Esther Perales2, Ana M. Rabal1, Francisco Martínez-Verdú2, Alicia Pons1, Elisabet Chorro2 and M. Luisa Hernanz1

1Instituto de Optica “Daza de Valdés”, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, C/. Serrano, 144. 28006 Madrid. Spain

2Grupo de Visión y Color. Departamento de Óptica, Farmacología y Anatomía. Universidad de Alicante. Carretera de San Vicente del Raspeig s/n, 03690 Alicante. Spain

Goniocolorimetry: from measurement to representation in the CIELAB color space

Lionel Simonot

Mathieu Hébert

Damien Dupraz
STIL SA, 595 rue Pierre Berthier, Domaine de St Hilaire, F-13855 Aix en Provence Cedex 3, France

Automotive Coatings: Creating Excitement with Effect Pigments

Observation and Measurement of the Appearance of Metallic Materials. Part I. Macro Appearance

C. S. McCamy

Color measurements for pearlescent coatings

Maria E. Nadal Edward A. Early

First published: 11 December 2003


Coatings with metallic effect pigments for antimicrobial and conductive coating of textiles with electromagnetic shielding properties

How Auto Body Shops Can Address the Color Measurement Challenges of Pearlescent Paint

Posted on  May 16, 2016 by Ken Phillips

Pearlescent Pigments in Coatings – a Primer


Measuring Effect Pigments


Color representation and interpretation of special effect coatings 

A. Ferrero, E. Perales, A. M. Rabal, J. Campos, F. M. Martínez-Verdú, E. Chorro, and A. Pons


Effect Pigments Market Share, Size Global Current and Future Plans, Future Growth, Regional Trend, Leading Players Updates, Industry Demand by Forecast to 2025



Pearlescent glass pigment


Iridescent magnetic effect pigments comprising a ferrite layer




Effect pigments—past, present and future

Frank J.Maile Gerhard Pfaff Peter Reynders

Progress in Organic Coatings
Volume 54, Issue 3, 1 November 2005, Pages 150-163


Modeling Material Reflection with BRDFLab 

Adrià Forés1,2, Sumanta N. Pattanaik2, Carles Bosch1, Xavier Pueyo1

1 ViRVIG – Universitat de Girona 

2 University of Central Florida

Visual appearance measurement of surfaces containing pearl flakes

Ye Seul Baek, Youngshin Kwak, and Seungjoon Yang

Journal of the Optical Society of America A

Vol. 32,Issue 5,pp. 934-942(2015)


Effect pigments for textile coating: a review of the broad range of advantageous functionalization

Journal of Coatings Technology and Research volume 14, pages35–55(2017)



Application of the Transfer Matrix Method to Anti-reflective Coating Rendering

Benamira A., Pattanaik S. (2020)

In: Magnenat-Thalmann N. et al. (eds) Advances in Computer Graphics. CGI 2020. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 12221. Springer, Cham.


Angle Resolved Light Scattering in Turbid Media

Analysis and Applications

Magnus Neuman

Licentiate Thesis No. 56 Ha ̈rno ̈sand, Sweden 2011

Geometry Related Inter-Instrument Differences in Spectrophotometric Measurements

Edström, Per
Neuman, Magnus
Avramidis, Stefanos
Andersson, Mattias

DOI: 10.3183/NPPRJ-2010-25-02-p221-232


Global Special Effect Pigments (Metallic, Pearlescent) Market, 2022 – Focus on Plastics, Paints & Coatings, Printing Inks, & Cosmetics


Ceramic application of mica titania pearlescent pigments

Patrícia M. Tenório Cavalcante1, Michele Dondi2, Guia Guarini2, Fernanda M. Barros1, Adão Benvindo da Luz

Dyes and Pigments, 74 (2007) 1–7

Colorimetric characterization of pearlescent coatings

Maria E. NadalThomas A. Germer

Proceedings Volume 4421, 9th Congress of the International Colour Association; (2002)

Event: 9th Congress of the International Color Association, 2001, Rochester, NY, United States


Characterization of gonio-apparent colours

F. Leloup, P. Hanselaer, M. Pointer*, and J. Versluys

Laboratory for Optical Measurements and Lighting Technology

KaHo Sint-Lieven, Gebr. Desmetstraat 1,

B-9000 Gent (BELGIUM)

* National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, TW11 0LW (UK)

Modeling the appearance of special effect pigment coatings

Thomas A. Germer and Maria E. Nadal

Optical Technology Division National Institute of Standards and Technology Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899

Published in Surface Scattering and Diffraction for Advanced Metrology,

Zu-Han Gu and Alexei A. Maradudin, Eds. Proc. SPIE 4447, 77–86 (2001).

Angle-Dependent Optical Effects Deriving from Submicron Structures of Films and Pigments

Chem. Rev. 1999, 99, 7, 1963–1982

Publication Date:June 11, 1999


Use of effect pigments for quality enhancement of offset printed specialty papers

Mirica Debeljak Aleš Hladnik Lidija Černe Diana Gregor‐Svetec

First published: 22 February 2012

Color Research and Application

Volume 38, Issue3
June 2013
Pages 168-176


Pearlescent Pigments


The Chemistry and Physics of Special-Effect Pigments and Colorants for Inks and Coatings

Paints and Coatings Industry


Fascinating displays of colour

Effect pigments – A successful interplay of chemistry and physics

Prof. Dr Gerhard Pfaff, Merck KGaA Darmstadt, Germany

Pearlescent Pigments – The Science of Optics


The New Generation of Physical Effect Colorants

Faiz Rahman and Nigel P. Johnson

February 2008  Optics and Photonics


Ceramic Coatings for Pigments

  • February 2012
  • In book: Ceramic Coatings – Applications in Engineering

Alireza Mirhabibi


Optical analysis of coatings including diffractive pigments using a high-resolution gonioreflectometer

Jiří Filip, Radomír Vávra & Frank J. Maile

Journal of Coatings Technology and Research


“Anisotropic reflectance from turbid media. I. Theory,”

M. Neuman and P. Edstro ̈m,

J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 27, 1032–1039 (2010).

“Anisotropic reflectance from turbid media. II. Measurements,”

M. Neuman and P. Edstro ̈m,

J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 27, 1040–1045 (2010).

“Geometry related inter-instrument differences in spectrophotometric measurements,”

P. Edstro ̈m, M. Neuman, S. Avramidis, and M. Andersson,

Nord. Pulp Pap. Res. J. 25, 221–232 (2010).

“Angular variations of color in turbid media – the influence of bulk scattering on goniochromism in paper,”

M. Neuman, P. Edstro ̈m, M. Andersson, L. Coppel, and O. Norberg,

in Proc. of 5th European Confer- ence on Colour in Graphics, Imaging and Vision, (Joensuu, Finland, 2010), pp. 407–413.

“Point spreading in turbid media with anisotropic single scattering,”

M. Neuman, L. G. Coppel, and P. Edstro ̈m,

Opt. Express 19, 1915–1920 (2011).

Special Effects Pigments

Gerhard Pfaff

Chapter in Book

High Performance Pigments

Edited by
Edwin B. Faulkner and Russell J. Schwartz

Special Effects Pigments

Technical Basics and Applications

Book by Gerhard Pfaff published in 2008

Special Effects Pigments

Book Chapter by Gerhard Pfaff

In Industrial Inorganic Pigments

Edited by G. Buxbaum and G. Pfaff

Inorganic Pigments

Book by Gerhard Pfaff, PhD



Measuring Metallic and Special Effect Automotive Finishes


Pearlescent PIGMENTS in Coatings A Primer


Photonics Measures the Quality of Automotive Paint


Measuring special effect: Comparison of Spectrophotometers

Multiangle Spectrophotometer Technology


Rendering Pearlescent Appearance Based On Paint-Composition Modelling

Sergey Ershov , Konstantin Kolchin and Karol Myszkowski

Photo-realistic Rendering of Metallic Car Paint from Image-Based Measurements

Martin Rump, Gero Müller, Ralf Sarlette, Dirk Koch and Reinhard Klein Institute for Computer Science II, University of Bonn †

CCM system for Metallic and Pearlescent Colors

Applied Multi-Angle Image and Spectrum

Masayuki Osumi

Effect Pigments for Industry

CQV Korea

Special effect pigments in cosmetic applications

An amazing development for a bright future

Gerhard Pfaff

A General Micro-flake Model for Predicting the Appearance of Car Paint

S. Ergun1 and S. Önel2 and A. Ozturk

Eurographics Symposium on Rendering – Experimental Ideas & Implementations (2016) E. Eisemann and E. Fiume (Editors)

Efficient representation of bidirectional reflectance distribution functions for metallic paints considering manufacturing parameters

DOI: 10.1117/1.3529429

Myoung Kook Seo

Kang Yeon Kim

Duck Bong Kim

Hiu Kwan Lee


Essentials of Effect Pigments (infographic)

Effect pigments for textile coating: a review of the broad range of advantageous functionalization

Boris Mahltig, 17 November 2016


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Author: Mayank Chaturvedi

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