As color shifting paints rapidly increased in popularity some confusion set in as to their proper names since the first commercially used automotive paint using ChromaFlair pigments appeared on Ford's 1996 Mustang Cobra. Ford produced 2,000 Cobras with a paint specially formulated by BASF using ChromaFlair #190 Green/Purple pigments which Ford called "Mystic". Since then other automakers have used ChromaFlair pigments on their vehicles including Mercedes-Benz's Designo Colors.

CHROMALUSION? KAMELEON? MIRAGE? WHAT'S THIS PAINT REALLY CALLED?

Well, all of the above and more, but they all fall under the description of "color shifting paints". These paints originated from a product developed by Flex Products, Inc. of Santa Rosa, California called ChromaFlair light interference pigments. ChromaFlair is manufactured in the following eight colors:

#000 - Red/Gold
#060 - Silver/Green
#080 - Gold/Silver
#190 - Green/Purple
#230 - Cyan/Purple
#280 - Blue/Red
#300 - Purple/Orange
#330 - Magenta/Gold

These eight ChromaFlair colors are bought by paint manufacturers who then combine them with their own formulas. Manufacturers often combine other unique metallic or pearl components, pigments, or dyes with ChromaFlair pigments to produce an infinite range of color shifting finishes. Currently the following are the major paint manufacturers using ChromaFlair light interference pigments and the names of their color shifting paint product lines:

BASF Extreme Colors
Dupli-Color Mirage
DuPont ChromaLusion
Glasurit Fantasy Colors
Kansai Spectroshine Paints
Nippon Maziora Paints
NOF Corporation Illusion Colors
PPG Harlequin Colors
Sherwin-Williams MultiTones
Valspar/House of Kolors Kameleon Kolors

THE MECHANICS OF COLOR

What is color? Basically, when you look at something you are not seeing the color of the object itself but rather the electromagnetic light waves reflected from it. Light, as we see it with our eyes, is composed of all colors of the spectrum. Longer wavelengths begin at red and shorten toward violet. The nearest wavelengths beyond our abilities to see with the naked eye are infrared light (indicated by the left arrow on the graph) and ultraviolet light (indicated by the arrow on the right).

When all colors of this visible spectrum are reflected from an object's surface we see the object as white. When objects absorb all light and reflect nothing we see it as black. Combinations of absorbed and reflected light spectrum wavelengths are what form all other colors and are infinite.

HOW CHROMAFLAIR WORKS

ChromaFlair pigments are flat, ultra-thin micron sized flakes composed of three layers - an opaque reflective aluminum center surrounded by a transparent layer topped with a semi-transparent metallic surface layer. All of these layers are actually colorless. ChromaFlair pigments filter and reflect light wavelengths back as the color you see. The visible colors of ChromaFlair pigments are determined by how thick the ChromaFlair layers are, which light wavelengths are reflected by the surface layer, and which light wavelengths are reflected from the core layer.

How the color shift is seen is determined by the angle light strikes the pigment surface and the angle at which the reflected light is seen. Looking at a ChromaFlair surface straight on shows it's true color. Increasing the angle of view allows light wavelengths that escape direct filtering to be seen and increase in visibility as the angle of view increases.

SPECTRAFLAIR

Unveiled at the 2001 SEMA show, SpectraFlair is a new "diffractive pigment" designed by Flex Products which exhibits a smooth, continuously changing rainbow of colors appearing over an iridescent liquid metallic finish. This finish pigment became available in February 2002 and is sometimes referred to as "liquid metal" pigment. Further development of SpectraFlair pigments is currently underway. Information on future SpectraFlair products will be included here when available.

 
Photo of the above Lexus finished with SpectraFlair paint is from the 2001 SEMA show. 
ChromaFlair and SpectraFlair are trademarks of Flex Products, Inc.
For more information visit them at http://www.colorshift.com