Sunday, September 23, 2007

Munsell Notations

Here is a section where we can post the Munsell notations of various paints. If a paint doesn't match a chip exactly, then try to guess its notation. For example, yellow ochre might fall in between 10 YR and 2.5 Y. Maybe. Its value is usually 5 and the chroma around 6. One could write 10YR-2.5YR 5/6. Or, one could guess 1 Y or 2 Y etc. If the value is slightly higher one could write 5 + or , if less 5-. The same goes with the chroma, guess or give a range.

Also, I would like information on the loss of chroma and the change in hue when a paint is mixed with white.


hellfish said...

great post idea! with everyones help, this could be a great reference point for checking/cataloging where all the brands and their colors of oil paint are on the munsell color wheel. our own private library of color names, notations and info!
can i hear a "praise da lord" anyone!

Scott said...

How 'bout a "hallelujah, jumpin' jack! EEEEEE-HAH!!!"

marsha said...
(Not sure how to post a photo here, so this is a test- please delete if wrong and send instructions for posting photos...thanks)

The first two notations are of interest: (I have to get additional reds, so thought I'd start with the yellow family, but found I only had Cad Yellow Light!)

However, Vasari's Cad Yellow light is a pretty near match to 2.5Y8/16 - the highest chroma I could find for yellow.

The next one is 5Y 8.5/14 Cad Yellow Light from Old Holland - quite a difference in Cad Yellow lights!

The next is 10Y 8.5/12 - mix of OH CY Lt, touch of pthalo green & touch of black and white. Then I proceeded with greens - much more difficult!
By the way, taping two small pieces of acetate together and slipping the chip inside, then placing paint mixture on acetate to match works pretty well - not perfect, but keeps the chips clean.Also have to figure out a better way to photograph these with better light while they dry.

marsha said...

Well, that didn't work.
I tried the HTML tag "a"..., but wouldn't accept "Target..."that was inside the "a".

Had to add " marks instead of >, cause this thought I was trying to add a photo and wouldn't accept my post.

Some of this technical stuff is harder than color! Please advise and delete this.

graydon said...


So for 10 Y you had to lower the chroma. This is interesting. I have found that often the yellows eclipse Munsell while Munsell beats the blues mixable in oil paint.

marsha said...

Yes, Graydon. I didn't have a tube of yellow that matched 10Y. That chip is so green compared to the other two.The closest I could get was what I noted. I'll have to get a Cad Yellow and see how far the chroma goes. Yes, the blues look very difficult - I tried a few, gave up, but will try again today.I also think there is a big difference in Pthalo greens - will have to make sure I get a yellower one.

Could you see the photo??? The one I tried to post really shows the difference.Or would you rather we didn't post photos?

linesend said...

Marsha, thanks for the picture, it is interesting to see the results. LindaE

Amy said...
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Amy said...
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Amy said...


Please keep posting the pics!!! That was really great to see it, and read your description!


graydon said...

Here are the highest chroma blues:

Phthalo Blue (Green Shade and Red Shade-- sometimes I can't tell the difference...check out this according to brands)

Ultramarine Blue.

Perhaps Manganese Blue OH. The real stuff.

Add white to bring out the chroma.

John said...


Those spheres are great? Do you mind if I ask what size they are?


painterdog said...

How did you paint those?
They look as if you sprayed painted them.

I am using oils and a brush not as smooth.

marsha said...

John, I guess you mean the spheres that are still up at photobucket?
The actual spheres are about 2 1/2 - 3 in. in diameter. The paintings were about 2 1/2"- much too small to actually paint all the necessary values.

PainterD: Do you mean the color wheel squares or the spheres? They were all done the same way.
Straight paint with lead napth added to help drying. However, lead napth makes the paint glossier looking - not a good thing for the spheres. It's easier to read values on more matte objects. I ended up driving a nail into the sphere so I had something to hold onto. Then placed in a piece of styrofoam to dry. Sometimes I use a small hake brush to smooth out brush marks. Took awhile and was still very messy, but learned much.

This new color wheel project is amazing! Still messy - I'm working in a very small space, so I'll blame that! And I'm using paint like I had a paint factory in the back yard - but in the long run I see great possibilities. I am using lead napth with these.

John said...

Thanks, Marsha!

I'm starting my wheel today. I'm pretty excited.

I heard an interesting thing the other day. I was hanging out with a bunch of painters/artists of which a good number were teachers. One was a color teacher who was talking to someone about the 3 properties of color and how we number value. They asked if we numbered intensity as well (chroma) and she replied, "no, nobody has ever done that. I don't think you can."
Pretty interesting.

painterdog said...

John that speaks more to state art education in this country that a color teacher knows nothing about Munsell is sad.

marsha said...

Say, 'bout teaching me how to post a picture like you did with the Color Wheel template?

***Or if the Moderator/Head Blog person thinks photos take up too much bandwidth (or whatever it is), just let us all know!

In the mean time, here are more color notations for my color wheel:

It is very difficult to photograph accurate blues and purple blues - red purples,
probably too. In person, by my eye, these are pretty accurate,although a few need a second coat) but on camera, they fade a bit and the purple blues loose alot of red.I think I need to adjust the white balance on the camera. These are on white cardboard as they dry, so not totally white...hopefully will look better on the V5 board.

Am I on the right track, Graydon?As far as chroma loss when adding white - with these recent chips I am amazed at how different various brands of paint are. The Holbein Ult. blue with Titanium is a pretty perfect match to 7.5PB 4/12. I then did a small square of SP Ult. blue and the chroma immediately went down when white was added - still have to find a chip what will match or guess it's placement (though I don't use this anymore - just too dull, but might be useful for some things).

I don't have the magenta purple or Quin Rose you listed, so used what I have on hand and came pretty darn close. For 10PB 4/12, the SP diox purple was pretty close, but Rembrandt Permanent Violet was closer.

Am I the only one doing this work?

marsha said...

Just realized Graydon, that these are not just the Munsell notations of various paints - only a few are straight paint plus white that matches the high chroma chips. Sorry if I took up too much space. Just delete or move somewhere else if necessary for housekeepping!

painterdog said...

I am still working on the gray scales.
I have to repaint my shapes.
I just bought this gray scale booklet and it seems I am off enough to have to redo them.

I don't have the big book yet.

After I re-paint the shapes I will make a color wheel.

Seems you are the only one at the moment.

To post what you need is click on 'new post' in the upper right hand corner.

you will go to a page that let's you edit text and load images.
The load image button is third in from the right on this page.

marsha said...

Thanks Paintdog! I'll try it tomorrow.

Yes, I have to do my gray scales again as well! The Munsell Booklet scale is a beauty - even if they are all grays! But such accuracy is a that Graydon has provided us with the correct proceedure should go much easier. I encourage you to save for the Big Book - it's like gaining sight after being nearly blind about color!

I'm glad others are doing this work...guess I'm just more vocal about it!

GrayHound said...


I'm waiting for my student book to arrive (big book is quite a few paychecks away). Does the student book include a grayscale, and if so how does it compare to the new Munsell Grayscale book you just got? Will the student scale suffice?


painterdog said...
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painterdog said...
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painterdog said...

grayhound, first woof, woof...

the student book comes with gray scales all the chips are matte.

The little booklet I have as you can see from the photo is small, 2" x 6.5".

I bought this because I wanted the glossy finish. They are expensive $55.00 but they are in quarter tones which is very helpful for me.

The Big Book has 4 pages of gray scales if I am correct.

However the student book is fine just put the chips under a piece of acetate that works well.

I still do this with the glossy gray scales as I noticed that I was making to many marks rubbing the paint off.

The manufacture recommends replacing them every 2 years due to possible fading from exposure to much sun light and over use.

Interesting, I guess the big book is made better.

GrayHound said...

Cool. Thanks for those tidbits, P'dog. I'll run with that.

Woof arf,

Scott said...

Hi Marsha!

Thanks for being the first person to post! I should have a camera in a few weeks and hope to post my work then. Thanks for also posting the names of the manufacturers of the paint. It's going to be interesting to see what everyone comes up with for their target mixtures.

Doing this has shown me that I have trouble seeing red very well. Interesting. Glad there are chips to calibrate by.

Scott said...

Oh my gosh!!! The book says it has over 5500 hues with codes and mixing instructions. Found it on Amazon through a fluke, and it only costs one cent!!!

Color Atlas (Art) (Paperback)
by Harald Kuppers (Author)

Anyone have this? Hoping it's a good help.

John said...

So I found this a pretty fun exercise as well. I did just a couple of swatches and this is what I've found:

Rembrandt Vermilion: 1.25YR 5/16

-This was tough. The swatche matches both value and chroma almost perfectly to 10R 5/16 except it appears to have just a tad bit more yellow in it. The 2.5YR 6/16 is, of course, a step lighter in value, but is also too orange. Therefore, I am taking the liberty of assuming 1.25YR. Could I be way off on this?

Winsor & Newton (Artists' Oil Colour) Scarlet Lake: 7.5R 4/16-

-The Hue and Value seem pretty spot on, but the chroma doesn't quite match the Munsell chip. Thus the "-".

Winsor & Newton (Artists' Oil Colour) Cadmium Green Pale: 5GY 6-/10

-I'm finding that it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between value and chroma. Well, in cases like this when the chip and swatch are really close. I'm realizing that my eyes really suck.

Winsor & Newton (Artists' Oil Colour) Chromium Oxide Green: 10GY 4/4+

- Hue and Value are very close, but the paint seems to have just a bit more chroma.

Winsor & Newton (Artists' Oil Colour) Manganese Blue (Hue): 10B 3+/10

- This one was really tough. The Hue and Chroma appear pretty close, but the value is just a bit darker.

This is a really fun exercise. Still, I'm sure if I do it again in a month, I'll probably get different results do to the training my eyes really need.