he Munsell Book of Color is arguably the first modern color model. It is based on the three attributes of color: Hue Saturation and Value, and was developed through careful color measurement. Conceived by the American artist Albert H. Munsell (1858-1918), it was described as a color order system in 1905 and published as an atlas of color samples in 1915. (This was republished in 1929 as the Munsell Book of Color.) The Munsell was extensively revised or “renotated” in the early 1940’s, when it was adopted as the standard color reference system in the USA.

Munsell’s system is based on the 2D hue circle.” He selected five principle colors: red yellow green blue purple and five intermediate colors: yellow-red green-yellow blue-green purple-blue red-purple While the selection of colors in our hue circle differ from Munsell’s. to be infinitely expandable. the same principals can be applied. Hue is the major organizing principal behind Munsell’s system. . Munsell’s system was created. in fact. Hue was defined by Munsell as “the quality by which we distinguish one color from another.

. scientists and artists have used three dimensional models in order to explain the dynamics of color. Many color theorists.Color Solids Munsell’s system is described as a color solid or a three dimensional color model. Three dimensional color solids such as these allow for the primary aspects of color (hue. value and saturation) to be illustrated in a single model rather than a series of unconnected charts.

however.Munsell originally conceived of his color system as a sphere. This unusual shape has come to be known as the Munsell color tree. . The qualities of the hues in the Munsell system are very irregular. and are best described visually by a solid such as the one shown to the right.

Three views of the Munsell Color Tree .

The Munsell color tree is organized by three fundamental aspects of color: Hue Hue is the purest form of a color. (Think of your hue circle) Value refers to the light or dark quality of a color. Value Saturation (Chroma) Saturation (called Chroma by Munsell) is the intensity or purity of a color. Tone Scale . Value is represented as a vertical axis with black at the bottom and white at the top. saturation is what distinguishes a pure hue from a gray shade. Hue is represented here as a ring.

which represents equal steps of perceptual contrast from white to black.VALUE The backbone of the Munsell system is a vertical value dimension. .

YELLOW BLUE VIOLET . The fully saturated hue is located in a row next to it’s relative value. Some hues are light in value (like yellow) some are dark (like blue-violet).HUE Every Hue has a relative value.

The steps of saturation should perceptually match those of the value scale. The goal is to achieve even perceptual steps of saturation from gray to the fully saturated hue.Saturation Saturation is measured horizontally. This is tricky since contrast of value and contrast of hue are quite different more saturated less saturated . with the fully saturated color farthest away from the value axis. The distance between the hue and its relative value depends on the color’s intensity (or saturation).

The completed hue chart has the overall effect of even steps of contrast in horizontal. The steps of value contrast are even and the steps of hue contrast are even. . vertical and diagonal directions.

) As a result. and purples tend to be stronger. In the Munsell system.Hues can have very different levels of saturation and also value (think of the value difference between yellow and blueviolet. reds. . more saturated hues. some hue charts can have very different appearances. blues. Yellows and greens are weaker and achieve their full saturation closer to the value axis.

Complementary hues are arranged across from each other in the Munsell tree. .

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