Anyone tried the Munsell method of mixing?

Seems similar to Mark's method but comes from comparing 'chips' of colour within the Munsell book.

A look at the book

Using 'chips' for a painting


  • Hi @Intothevoid, I’ve never bothered trying to mix using that method as it seems overly complex to me - using the DMP approach is far simpler, more direct, and it works!  I did however play around with the Munsell theory a bit, just to teach myself. The link to the thread i posted on this is below, which itself has a link to a spreadsheet with some colour charts showing how it all works, if you are interested.
  • I think Paul Foxton would abandon Munsell books after using DMP for three or four paintings. Especially if he is actually teaching students. Munsell is probably a great way for digital artists to learn color even though it's been in use since 1943 BC. (Before Computers)
  • That was an interesting video.  It would be interesting to see how he goes from a chip color to mixing that color and see if it saves time or increases accuracy of value chroma matching.
    ive always gone from matching value first then color.  With a munsell color atlas it seems you would go the other direction.
  • @BOB73
    He actually has mentioned Mark in a few of the videos I've seen and even uses Geneva paint sometimes, he said he respects Mark's method and work immensely but cannot fully get with the limited palette idea.
    Here is a video covering colour matching using the chips, it is very interesting.
  • I've been influenced by both Foxton and Carder.  My naive synthesis is that Munselll provides a framework for thinking about color, whereas Mr. Carder addresses the how to mix the right color.  I see the two as complementary.  The Munsell chips don't tell you how to mix colors, but provide a target and identification of the color in hue, value and chroma in absolute terms.  One thing I find in thinking about color through Munsell is that much of the natural world around us is much lower in value and chroma than we percieve.   You don't need the chips, you just need to think within the colorspace they quantifies.  One aspect I find useful is there's no "warm" or "cool", and not as much of a reliance on complements as light turns to dark across a surface.

    IIRC Mr. Foxton's critique of the Geneva palette was made years ago, I think before Burnt Umber was added as a warm dark.  And there are gamut issues with some high-chromas within the strict 5-pigment Geneva palette. The addition of a Sap Green or Phthalo Blue GS widens the gamut considerably,  especially for landscapes which can be predominantly subtle blues, cyans and greens.  For botanicals and still lifes a yellow-red Earth or a high-chroma orange-red might be needed.

    I have several apps that allow me to to spot-examine parts of a photo, similar to a color-checker, in terms of Munsell; and I'm often struck by the actual low value and low chroma...occasionally by the hue.  The natural world is much less saturated than we percieve.  The color-checker provides similar information in real time.
  • I agree with TedB. I think of colours in terms of hue, value and saturation too, and I have my own program to examine the colour I'm trying to mix. I've found that when doing colour strings I tend to start off at black and then mix up in value, hue, saturation. So I tend to use part of the other colour to start the new one and then add white, yellow, etc.. If it goes too light I add in more of the old colour or black)

  • edited June 2020
    I like some of Paul Foxton`s teaching videos but I am not keen on the Munsel system.

    I made an attempt a few years back and bought the student book, the actual big book is very expensive as I recall.
    I sent my book back because the chips were so badly made that when they were prized from their card some of the surface would tear off. So I would be left with a chip that had part of the colour and a big white ripped area. Just badly made.

    Also I could never get to grips with names, example 5Y and 5PB. I don't have the patience or the mindset to learns that.
    It reminded me too much of the traumas of trying to understand maths at school. Having found it difficult enough they then bring in algebra -if x =y etc.

    Not for me.

    Just looked on Amazon at reviews and many had the same issues with the badly made chips. That was the 5th edition. There is now a 6th, and I presume they will have listened to feedback and made it properly.
    I won't be getting it though, it would just make me see red (or 5R)

  • @MichaelD
    Yes he said in one of his videos a lot of people had problems with the 4th edition of the book and the poor quality of production. He himself says he uses the 3rd edition which can be found on ebay etc.
    The 'big book' (non student edition) apparently sells for around $1000 which personally I think is insane and an obvious money grab by the publishers.
  • TedBTedB -
    edited June 2020
    You really only need the student edition, ...or one of the online resources.  The professional Big Book is really intended for industry and academics, not for working professional painters.  And whoever prints the Student Book just doesn't care it seems.  It's been problematic for several editions.  Even if you just printout the publicly-available 10 Munsell pages yourself;  they're still useful since hue-value-chroma are relative for the artist.  It's the colorspace that matters. 

    Having perfecr color matching --which is the point of the Big Book-- isn't important to the artist.  Your YR2.5, 4.3/7.25 doesn't have to match his YR2.5, 4.3/7.25 sample ...its a brown.
  • I think I ruined things on our first dinner date when I looked at her across the table and said....

    "Has any one ever told you you have the most beautiful 4287C7 eyes"
  • @MichaelD
    Haha, at least she knew exactly the hue, value and chroma you were talking about you romantic old dog you :)
  • @Intothevoid,
    She was furious and before storming off without me said that if I had been paying attention I would know that they were actually more 0093AF.

    I hadn't  banked on her being a Munsellite, she knew them all like the back of her hand.

    Which was various hues of flesh tones that I cant recall the codes for.

    And to think I brought her a bunch of F2003C roses.
  • But why are you listing RGB colours in Hexadecimal format, rather than Munsell? :D
  • Next there will be google glasses that display the munsell codes on whatever your looking at.
  • @MichaelD
    Ah, you forgot to take into account the slight hue shift from the light bouncing off the carrot on her dinner plate from the 2600k light on the ceiling, rookie mistake :dizzy:
  • @Richard_P poor research on my part  :)

    @GTO with the price of the books I wouldn't be surprised, it would be a big earner.  :)

    @Intothevoid Thats because I was looking through rose (insert Munsell code here) tinted spectacles 

  • PaulBPaulB mod
    It's not fair to compare Carder color matching to Munsell, they are not the same thing. The Carder approach is simply a process, with no theory, you take a guess and iterate from there.

    If the color is this:

    Then I think red, little brown maybe, little blue, maybe a touch of white. Then I nudge it closer with an adjustment.

    But if the color is this:

    All I can really see is that it's a warm grey, so I might mix a neutral grey of the right value and adjust with brown.

    With Munsell you learn about color, for example, the highest or lowest values of a color are also the lowest chroma, meaning that adding black or white reduces chroma. You learn that maximum chroma occurs at different values, depending on hue. With Munsell it is easier to work with non-primary colors.

    In the end, all you do is mix colors together until it's right. But with one approach, you understand more.
  • edited June 2020
    @PaulB is right. We get to know a lot more about colour theory with Munsell but I don't know that all that knowledge and theory is of more value to the painter than learning to mix and match what he/she sees using a method like Mark's. What we're after is the red in that apple or the shade of blue in the shadows on that snow. Well, with Munsell  you can search through the book to find a match by holding a chip against your subject. Then you can mix it with reference to the precise Munsell formula. But imagine, as a beginner, having to go through that rigmarole for every brushstroke.  Imagine trying to do it when painting en plein air as the light changes! In the long run it's better to get an instinctive feel for hue, value and chroma through practice and experience mixing the colour that you see without having to refer to Munsell chips and formulae. With practice it becomes instinctive and the knowledge is in your head rather than on a colour chip with a mixing formula that you have to dig out each time you want to make a colour.  And the $1000 you save not buying Munsell you can spend on a nice big roll of canvas and more paint and brushes. I understand that soil geomorphologists find them of assistance in their analyses but, for the painter, I doubt the chips would be worth the effort of using them and the expense of buying them. We can do it more efficiently by eye and hand.   :)
  • Theories and chips are all great and are grand for beginners in a four year art school with instructors and tutors. Mixing from formulas is pretty daunting when you only need a drop of the mix. How do you measure to get your ratio right without wasting a lot of paint. Then you can be 99% right on your mix but the finished color still needs to be adjusted. With Carder, your chip is on your subject, your values are all lined up all you have to do is adjust your color eliminating a lot of the Chip theory and all the expense, time wasting and aggravation that comes with it  making it an easier and direct way of learning how to mix paint.
  • What I liked about the video is that he focuses in on the local color and adjusts from there.   He also points out the effects of light on the object.  Both these are important things to consider when checking colors no matter if you use munsell or the carder method.
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