A 10YR Munsell chart wouldn’t have meant anything to me 2 years ago. But learning to think about color in Munsell terms i.e. hue/value/chroma has been game-changing for me. It has been the single thing that has improved my painting over the last couple of years. Not the most exciting thing today but useful nonetheless. I’ve been thinking about how long it would take to reproduce every chart in the Big Munsell Book in oil. This is the gold standard if you’re working with Munsell and is eye-wateringly expensive. The recommendation is to start with the student book which has fewer chips but is only around $100. You can also pick up used editions on Ebay every now and again.
All About The Munsell Color System
If you want to know more about Munsell see my new post about what it is and how to use it. Includes a link to downloadable pdfs and access to the online Munsell tool ChromaMagic.
A free online tool to identify Munsell chips from any photo.
How Easy is it to Mix a 10YR Munsell Chart?
So there are 40 charts and around 1600 colors in total. I thought I’d start with the chart that always seems to be present – 10YR. This is a yellow orange hue and has the full range of colors from light to dark and bright to gray. It took me around 4 hours to exactly mix every swatch. Phew! At one a day this would take me 40 days. Hmm.
Here’s the same thing in grayscale (actually desaturated). Each row should look exactly the same value.
Not too bad. A couple of wobbles here and there but pretty close.
I did this on Strathmore canvas paper and marked out the swatches with 1/4 inch masking tape. I should have waited until tomorrow to take the tape off but couldn’t wait 🙂
Online Watercolor Classes
I don’t explicity teach Munsell in my watercolor classes but I do use the principles when mixing color. I run regular beginners and intermediate/improvers classes throughout the year. If you are interested please visit my classes page. If you would like to be notified of any upcoming classes please sign up for my mailing list.
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