ChromaMagic Munsell Color Tool

Munsell wheel at different values

Welcome to ChromaMagic – the online Munsell color analysis tool. Click the button to go straight to analyzing your photos. If you’re new to ChromaMagic check out the walkthroughs at the end of this post. I also have a post on Munsell and how it helps artists.

This version of ChromaMagic will always be free but any donations towards its upkeep, development and maintenance would be gratefully received. Click the button below to donate securely through Square.

Anyone who donates will get a free upgrade to the next version currently in development.

What is ChromaMagic?

Have you ever looked at a scene or a photo reference and thought ‘What is that color?’ As artists our color perception is crucial in knowing what we see and how we translate it onto canvas or paper. ChromaMagic was developed to help us quickly sharpen our skills in color perception and improve our paintings. It can show you the three Munsell components of color for any color in a photo reference and display them in the relevant color chart.

The Munsell Color System

ChromaMagic uses the Munsell Color System to define color. As artists it is a wonderful way to define and mix color. Munsell classifies color into 3 components of hue, value and chroma. If you’re new to this way of thinking about color it can take a little while to get into the swing of things. But it is well worth it. I can personally say that it transformed my paintings almost overnight.

Starting with ChromaMagic

ChromaMagic start screen
ChromaMagic start screen

When you first load up the ChromaMagic tool it has a color wheel photo displayed in the photo area. At the top on the left is the full photo and, on the right, is a zoomed in region. To load up your own photo click the black button on the top right.

Click Anywhere on the Photos to Select a Color

ChromaMagic Selected Color
ChromaMagic Selected Color

Click anywhere on either the left or right photo regions to select a color. The zoom panel on the right will center on that pixel and display a red cross-hair on the selected color.

Below the photo are 3 representations of that color. On the left are rectangles displaying the exact color and also the nearest Munsell chip color. On the right is the color highlighted in the relevant color chart.

ChromaMagic Munsell Color Tool Detail Panel

ChromaMagic hue, value, chroma color chart
ChromaMagic hue, value, chroma color chart

Chroma Varies as the Hue Changes

Munsell 5B color chart
Munsell 5B color chart

Example Photo 1 – Apple and Pear Still Life

This reference is one I have used in a beginners class. It’s great for honing your skills identifying and mixing colors. See the link for a full step by step watercolor tutorial and video.

Munsell apple and pear example
Munsell apple and pear example

Light Values Vary Between the Fruit

ChromaMagic Munsell pear color
ChromaMagic Munsell pear color

Shadow Values Change Hue

ChromaMagic Munsell pear shadow color
ChromaMagic Munsell pear shadow color

Gray Colors Aren’t Really Gray

Munsell gray color
Munsell gray color

Example Photo 2 : Landscape Reference

I’ve come a cropper with beach paintings many a time. Finally, with the help of ChromaMagic, I could work out and learn where my colors were wrong. The result was that my paintings were much more successful.

ChromaMagic landscape sand color
ChromaMagic landscape sand color

Blue Sky is Surprisingly Dark

Munsell blue sky color
Munsell blue sky color

Distant Things are Blue!

ChromaMagic background landscape color
ChromaMagic background landscape color

Green Hills are Blue!

Munsell greens are actually blue
Munsell greens are actually blue

45 thoughts on “ChromaMagic Munsell Color Tool

    1. Hi Bernie,

      Many thanks for the interest! This version is free (it’s a web app and will likely remain so). A small donation is always welcome and helps pay for the domain and keeps the servers running. If you make a donation now then I’ll put you on the list and you’ll get the next version free which will have lots of extra tools (learning mode, chroma curves, multiple chip selection, output options and wheel display).

  1. This is genius!!!! Thank you so much. I will be contributing today. I’ve tried doing something similar with photoshop to find the colors i couldn’t see correctly but it never really worked. This is the best art tool ever!!!!

    1. So glad you like it!! And thank you so much for the donation – you’ll get the next version early and for free. Let me know you get on – any feedback welcome.

      Oh and can I ask to use your quote on the web page?

  2. I just tried this with a photo of a hydrangea I am painting. I had chosen several Munsell Chips from the actual flower and my choices are very close to what comes up with your ChromaMagic using the photo. What’s great is that there are so many subtle changes in this flower and it helps me to see those hue changes and the deep shadows.
    This is really a brilliant tool. Thank you so much for sharing this!

    1. So glad you like it! And very happy it’s useful. And flowers are so hard to see the colors accurately. Using this a few times definitely helps me see colors better in real life.

  3. Do I need to use jpeg format to load a file? PSD doesn’t seem to work. This is so awesome. I sent you a donation. Hope it was enough…

    1. Hi Kathy – and many thanks for the donation! Definitely enough!

      Yes right now it has to be an image file like jpeg, gif or png. I’ll have a look into parsing psd files but if there isn’t a stable library for reading photoshop files it may be more trouble than it’s worth.

  4. Hi Michele, this is brilliant! I tried it with a photo of my setup and the painting next to it. Luckily the hvc is the same. I will use this to tool to help double check some subtle shifts. I would like to donate via PayPal instead of cc. Is that possible?

  5. This is excellent and resolves so many issues. Plz let me know what is a reasonable contribution.
    Do I receive a download of this for use?
    I do not have a website so how are things done?

  6. What a wonderful thing this is. I can’t wait to try it. I have the big Munsell book but I’ll be curious to see what this tool helps to clarify, especially in those really difficult to see places. Thank you. I will be donating. Is there a PayPal link?

    1. Hi Jerri, Many thanks for commenting! I also have the Munsell book but I find the tool complements it. I start out with the tool then move onto the real chips when I’ve worked out the lay of the land. I’d be interested to hear how you find they work together too. There isn’t a PayPal link but you can send a donation directly to my PayPal email. I’ll contact you privately with the address.

    1. It’s well worth it. I ignored it for years as I thought ‘oh far too technical – I don’t need that’. I was wrong on both counts. Paul Foxton’s YouTube videos are really helpful to get a hold of the fundamentals.

  7. Holy moly Michele – this is absolutely genius!! I’ve just uploaded a portrait photo I’ve been working up the courage to paint, and it clarified so many of the subtle value shifts. Like another commenter I’d been trying to use Photoshop to help, and while it was useful, this is a zillion times better. THANK YOU for developing this. I may actually be ready to go for it now on the portrait!! Donation on the way.

    1. Hi Cathy – so glad you like it!! And yes Photoshop doesn’t really get you there. One thing I really like about ChromaMagic is that it shows you the color *on the card* so it gives you a visual guide as to where the color sits. Just getting the number notation isn’t quite enough. And good luck with that portrait – would love to hear how it turns out.

  8. Hello Michele. Was referred to this tool from Paul Foxton’s YouTube channel. Just donated. This is a very nice tool to check if your eye is close to choosing the actual color. Looking forward to the latest version.

    1. Thank you very much Peggy. You’re absolutely right about checking the color. I find it very useful for that. I will keep you updated about ChromaMagic and you’ll get a free upgrade to the new version when it comes out.

  9. Hi Michelle,

    Did you design this tool? I have been having fun with it. If I recommend it to other artists I want to make sure that I tell them how it was made and by who etc. thanks for sharing this great info!

    1. Yes I did!! So glad you like it. I was going to drop you a note a while ago but wasn’t sure if it was your thing or not. And please do recommend to people – it’s there to be used. I’m currently finishing up the next version which has some nice new features in. I’ll drop you a line when it’s ready. Nice to hear from you btw – been enjoying your beautiful work as always.

  10. This is brilliant! Thank you for making it available for free at this time but I did make a small donation so you can continue to do this sort of work for us! Thank you so much.

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