The Munsell Colour System

Fundamentals of Art and Design 3(1+2)


The Munsell Colour System

Albert H. Munsell devised a practical color-notation system that had a scientific basis to serve as a teaching aid. Within several decades his system assumed great importance in color science and in color technology.


This color system was based on steps of equal visual perception with any color being defined as a point within the three dimensional Munsell color space. The attributes of this system are Munsell Hue (H), Munsell Chroma (C) and Munsell Value (V) and are written in a form H V/C, which is called the Munsell Notation. Because of its perceptually uniform property, it is recognized as a standard system of color specification and has been widely used in many fields of color science

The Munsell color system can be described in terms of its three dimensions- Hue/Value/Chroma. This system per­mits the entire visual color field to be mapped out in equal steps so that the visual difference between any two adjacent steps is always the same. Since the color solid assumes the shape of the sphere with white at the top, black at the bottom, and the various hues distributed around the sphere, it is usually demonstrated by a globe rotating around the center axis.(Refer Fig 4.9)

In the Munsell system five equally spaced major hues-yellow, green, blue, purple, and red-and five minor hues spaced halfway between the five major hues form the basis of the Munsell decimal system dividing the hue circle. The complementary colors are yellow and purple-blue, green and red-purple, blue and yellow-­red, purple and green-yellow, and red and blue-green.

Last modified: Tuesday, 14 February 2012, 7:13 AM