An Affordable Munsell Book

(last updated August 27, 2015)

Munsell books provide physical exemplifications of the Munsell colour system, and help artists and designers visualize and match colours. The selection of Munsell books to date has been limited, and books that were available could be prohibitively expensive. To provide a resource that is within the price range of most artists, Paul Centore has written Controlling Colour with the Munsell System. For artists, designers, and painters who want a practical, hands-on, understanding of colour, Controlling Colour with the Munsell System is a unique working tool that would be an asset in any studio. Click here to purchase this affordable, colour-accurate Munsell book for $75 on (Non-US purchasers should contact Paul Centore directly; there is usually an additional $25 shipping charge.)

Front Cover of Munsell Book Back Cover of Munsell Book
Open View of Munsell Book Munsell Book with Page Removed

Comparison with Other Munsell Books

Controlling Colour with the Munsell System fills a niche by offering an extensive set of Munsell colours at an affordable price. The standard Munsell reference, X-Rite's "Big Book of Color," is extensive, but its price of nearly $1000 is beyond the means of many artists. The New Munsell Student Color Set (3rd ed.) is another excellent reference; though affordable, it only presents about 250 Munsell colours. Controlling Colour with the Munsell System is in the form of a binder, from which individual hue leaves can be removed. The individual colours are printed patches rather than swatches. The patches have been spectrophotometrically measured, insuring that their accuracy is at least on par with the other books. For comparison, here is a summary description of available Munsell books:

1. X-Rite's Munsell Book of Color, popularly known as the "Big Book of Color," is available in both matte and glossy editions, and has long been an industry standard (new versions have appeared periodically for decades). It features about 1300 standard Munsell colours as removable swatches. Its main drawback is its price, which is about $900 US. Another weakness is its limited documentation: a book for laboratory and production settings should provide some assessment of the DEs it achieves, as well as some assessment of permanence.

2. Jim Long's New Munsell Student Color Set (3rd ed). contains about 250 Munsell swatches, which a reader places in the book himself; the swatches can be attached with poster putty for easy removal and reattachment. The swatches are limited to neutral greys, and Munsell hues that are prefixed with 5. This book is a complete textbook, with sufficient discussion of colour for a university course. It sells for about $70 US, but secondhand copies and earlier editions are available for nearer $40.

3. BabelColor has replaced their Munsell poster with their Munsell Color System Catalog, featuring about 1700 printed colours. The colours are printed patches rather than removable swatches; individual hue leaves, however, can be removed from the ring binding. I haven't actually seen the book's text, so I can't comment on it. The BabelColor website, though, provides detailed technical documentation of the book and poster production, including DEs achieved and expected permanence. This book retails for $215 US.

4. Controlling Colour with the Munsell System features just over 1500 standard Munsell colours, in 41 hue leaves. Each hue leaf itself can be removed from the ring binding, but the individual colours are printed patches rather than removable swatches. The book's text is available here. It contains some guidance for artists and designers for using the Munsell system, as well as a brief technical discussion. Controlling Colour with the Munsell System retails for $75 US.

Summary of Munsell Books
Title Author Number of Standard
Munsell Colours
Munsell Book of Color, matte edition
Munsell Book of Color, glossy edition
X-Rite ~1300 Yes ~$900
The New Munsell Student Color Set (3rd ed) Jim Long ~250 Yes ~$70
The Munsell Color System Catalog Babelcolor ~1700 No $215
Controlling Colour with the Munsell System Paul Centore ~1500 No $75

Site Map
Applications To Art Colour Science
Colour Tools For Painters The Geometry of Colour
Munsell Colour System Colour Science Papers
An Affordable Munsell Book The Munsell and Kubelka-Munk Toolbox
A Munsell-Accurate Value Scale Munsell Resources
Colour Analysis of Pastels
The ISCC-NBS Colour System