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The distribution of pigment at the nano to micron scale illuminates the length scale of failure in paint samples. The authors use optical and topographical images from near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM) to compare a high quality paint sample with one that fails a standard quality control test based on visual inspection. NSOM provides the required nanometer to micrometer mesoscopic regime resolution and range, combined with simultaneous topographic and optical information. Features such as pigment clumping and pigment density fluctuations are simultaneously analyzed. The two types of samples are distinguished by fluctuations at different length scales. The authors observed individual pigment particles near the polymer surface of both samples.