Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Design


Jim Nobbs

Visiting Senior Lecturer

Jim Nobbs studied physics at Leeds University and obtained a Ph.D. for research in polymer physics.  During his early career, he held post-doctoral research fellowships in the Department of Colour Chemistry at Leeds University and in the Department of Physical Chemistry, University of Mainz, Germany.

Following his studies in Germany, Jim returned to the UK to join the staff of Leeds University and became a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Colour and Polymer Chemistry. Jim obtained industrial funding to create a colour-physics research laboratory within the Department, and formed a group that studied the optical properties of coloured materials and methods of characterising the appearance of objects and images.  Jim was the Head of Department of Colour Science from 2004 to 2008.  He retired from his post as a Senior Lecturer in the School of Chemistry in 2013.

Jim Nobbs developed several instruments for testing and analysing the properties of surface coating materials and has contributed to a number of British, European, Japanese and American patents.  An important part of the research was the combination of instruments with software to create methods of predicting the colour produced when materials are mixed or blended together.  He authored a number of colour related software applications and promoted their use in colour related industries around the world.  His software formed the basis of colour management applications for printing onto paper and board that were available from Colorgen (USA), Colourgen (UK) and X-Rite (USA).  Jim was the Technical Director of the company Colourgen (UK) from 1988 to 1994. In recognition of this work, Jim was awarded the Newton Medal of the Colour Group GB.

Jim, in association with the company “Fyne Conservation Services”, pioneered the use of instruments and software to assist conservators in the colour restoration of ceramic artefacts. They were awarded the Anna Plowden Trust Award for Research and Innovation in Conservation by the Institute of Conservation.

Jim recognised that the development of improved methods of computer based control of coloration processes had the potential to increase production efficiency and reduce environmental impact.  Methods for the measurement of dye concentrations within dyeing machinery were developed and used in a novel system of closed-loop feedback control.  Jim was awarded the Research Medal of the Worshipful Company of Dyers (London) for his research into methods of feedback-control of dyeing processes.

A further topic of research concerned characterising the relationships between the fundamental properties of colour perception space (hue, lightness, and colour intensity) and the emotional aspects of the human response to coloured objects and materials.  He has developed novel, maximum-likelihood methods of analysing these types of over-determined data-systems.

Jim Nobbs has been a member and chairperson of several technical committees and standardisation committees concerned with colour measurement and colour appearance evaluation, both in the UK (National Physical Laboratory and the Society of Dyers and Colourists) and internationally (Commission Internationale de l’Éclairage).  In recognition of his work in education and standardisation, Jim was awarded the Gold Medal of the Society of Dyers and Colourists.

Jim’s current interests involve research, publication and industrial-training. He is currently a colour-software consultant for an international paint company and is a researcher for the Delftglaze Project of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.  Jim is the Reviews Editor for the scientific journal Coloration Technology.  He disseminates knowledge of colour science through publication on the World Wide Web and is currently managing and providing content for more than 10 websites concerned with colour and colour science.

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