Welcome to a new series journeying into the unique world of color psychology! Color psychology helps to explain the different meanings and origins of certain colors and how they affect our everyday lives. We will be featuring topics such as the Munsell Color System, origins of color preference, how color is perceived in the brain, how to identify good colors, along with more in-depth articles about individual colors themselves. In this post, we will start off by introducing the Munsell Color System and how it is used to explain the components of color.
The Munsell System of Color
The ability to see color is one of the most enjoyable things that we can experience in life. When we look at colors, though, we often do not think about all of the different components that make up a certain shade or tint. The Munsell Color System was originally created by Albert H. Munsell in the early 20th century as a way to specify the different components of colors. According to the Munsell System, there are three main components that make up color perception:
Hue is the actual color name (i.e blue) and is the most often used term to describe how colors look. The image above illustrates that hue encompasses all of the different shades and tints of colors with the arrow wrapping around the gradient. However, the overall hue is also affected by value and chroma. Value is the level of brightness of a color, so the lower the value the darker the color and vice versa. In the Munsell gradient above, you can see that the arrow pointing downward would produce a darker hue, and the arrow pointing upward would produce a lighter hue. Chroma is the level of saturation or vividness a color has; for example, we would say that a color with a low chroma level looks “washed out” and a color with a high chroma level looks very vivid. The beginning of the chroma arrow toward the center of the gradient contains less vivid colors, but as you get further out toward the edges of the gradient the saturation of the color increases. Chroma is the component that accounts for why the same color (hue) can have many different presentations (shades or tints) like light green (a tint) and dark green (a shade). Understanding how hue, value, and chroma work together can ultimately help you to choose a color that looks best for your home, along with some other important factors later discussed in this series.
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