Graphical interpolation of Munsell data


  • Pietro Paglierani Francesca Valan Studio, Milan, Italy
  • Simone Liberini Dept. of Informatics, University of Milan, Italy
  • Alessandro Rizzi Dept. of Informatics, University of Milan, Italy
  • Francesca Valan Francesca Valan Studio, Milan, Italy



Munsell Color System, CIE coordinates, Visual interpolation, Color measurement


This paper analyzes the problem of converting Munsell color notations (hue, value and chroma) into CIE 1931 Yxy coordinates using the graphical method outlined in 1943 by the Optical Society of America (OSA). Various software programs can now perform this task, running on computers or color control instruments. Nonetheless, the OSA graphical technique remains the reference procedure to transform Munsell notations into CIE coordinates. The ASTM “Standard Practice for Specifying Color by the Munsell System” provides the data and charts needed to perform such conversion. Accordingly, Munsell value can be easily transformed into CIE luminance Y through a search in a data table. However, a guided procedure to graphically convert hue and chroma into CIE chromaticity coordinates is not available yet. To fill this gap, this paper proposes a graphical technique, which can use simple drawing computer programs such as PowerPoint, or more sophisticated tools for Computer Aided Design or Graphic Design, such as SolidWork or Adobe Illustrator. As an example, the proposed procedure is applied to a set of Munsell color chips from the Munsell Book of Colors, with nominal Munsell notations, but unknown CIE coordinates. The CIE Yxy coordinates of the analyzed chips are then digitally obtained by two ad hoc software conversion programs, and by instrumental measurements performed with a commercial spectrophotometer. Finally, a detailed comparison of the graphically and digitally interpolated data and of the instrumental measurements is provided and discussed.

Author Biographies

  • Pietro Paglierani, Francesca Valan Studio, Milan, Italy

    Pietro Paglierani - • Received the Master degree and Ph.D. degree in Electronic Engineering from the University of Padua. He is currently a signal processing scientist at the NATO Center for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE) in La Spezia, Italy. His main research interests are in digital signal processing, underwater acoustic communications, color processing. He was previously with Italtel S.p.A, Tektronix Padova, Necsy S.p.A. and Consorzio Padova Ricerche, where he was involved in the design of signal processing applications.

  • Simone Liberini, Dept. of Informatics, University of Milan, Italy

    Simone Liberini - • Received his MS degree in Biomedical Engineering at Polytechnic University of Milan. He worked as a research fellow at IBFM, Milan, where he contributed to an image-based frame of assessment of parotid glands shrinkage in head-and-neck cancer patients. He is currently external researcher at University of Milan, where he is involved in quantitative and perceptual analysis of applications of the Munsell Colour System

  • Alessandro Rizzi, Dept. of Informatics, University of Milan, Italy

    Alessandro Rizzi - • Is Full Professor at the Department of Computer Science at the University of Milan, teaching Multimedia and Colorimetry.

    He is doing research since 1990 in the field of digital imaging with a particular interest on color, visualization, photography, HDR, VR and on the perceptual issues related to digital imaging, interfaces and lighting. He is the head of the MIPS Lab at the Department of Computer Science. He has been one of the founders of the Italian Color Group, Secretary of CIE Division 8, IS&T Fellow and Vice President. In 2015 he received the Davies medal from the Royal Photographic Society.

    He is co-chair of the IS&T Conference “Color Imaging: Displaying, Processing, Hardcopy and Applications”, Topical Editor for “Applied Color Science” of the Journal of Optical Society of America, Associate Editor of Journal of Electronic Imaging, member of several program committees of conferences related to color and digital imaging, and author of more than 300 scientific works.

  • Francesca Valan, Francesca Valan Studio, Milan, Italy

    Francesca Valan - • Industrial designer, specialized in the design of colors, materials, and finishes (CMF Design). She graduated in Industrial Design at IED in Milan in 1989 and received her Master in Surface Quality in 1990. She lives and works in Milan, where she founded her studio in 1998. As an Industrial Designer, her activity consists in defining Product Identity. Her CMF projects range from elevators to office furniture, from home appliances to sport items, pens, glasses etc. She has collaborated with De Longhi Group, Lechler, Samsung, Telecom Italia, LG, Hitachi, Olivetti, Atomic, Technogym, Fila, Campari, and many others. She is a teacher in university and master courses in color design technology. She developed a method of prediction of trends based on historical and statistical analysis of color by market sector, which exploits the periodicity of color preferences and the duration of cycles for product type.


Adobe Illustrator. Available at: (Accessed April 2020).

ASTM Standard D 1535-14 (2014). Standard Practice for Specifying Color by the Munsell System.

BabelColor (2018). Colour Measurement and Analysis. Available at (Accessed: March 2019).

Centore, P. (2011). An open-source inversion algorithm for the Munsell renotation. Color Research & Application, 37(6), 455–464. doi:10.1002/col.20715.

Cochrane, S. (2014). The Munsell Color System: A scientific compromise from the world of art. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A, 47, pp.26-41, ISSN 0039-3681, doi:10.1016/j.shpsa.2014.03.004.

Colour Science for Python (2019). Available at: (Accessed: March 2019).

De Souza, F. B.: Defining Soil Profiles (2020). Available at: (Accessed: January 2020).

Kang, W. K. et al. (2009). Research of Key Technologies of the CACMOIT Model Based on Neural Network, Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Intelligent Computation Technology and Automation, Changsha, Hunan, 2009, pp. 400-403.

Konica Minolta, Spectrophotometer CM-2006d/2005d Instruction Manual, 2014. Available at: (Accessed: April 2020).

LibreOffice Draw. Available at (Accessed April 2020).

Mahyar, F. et al. (2008). “Conversion between CIELAB and Munsell Hue,” Association Internationale de la Couleur (AIC), Colour – Effects & Affects. Paper no 124, June 2008.

Microsoft PowerPoint. Available at (Accessed April 2020).

Munsell Color: Colorfully Perfect French Fries and Sides (2020). Available at: (Accessed: January 2020).

Munsell Renotation Data (2019). Available at: (Accessed: March 2019).

Newhall, S. (1940). “Preliminary Report of the O.S.A. Subcommittee on the Spacing of the Munsell Colors,” JOSA, Vol. 30, Issue 12, pp. 617-645,

Newhall, S. et al. (1943). Final Report of the O.S.A. Subcommittee on the Spacing of the Munsell Colors,” JOSA, Vol. 33, Issue 7, 1943, pp. 385-418.

Paglierani P. and Valan F. (2018). ‘A digital framework for color design and education’, Cultura e Scienza del Colore - Color Culture and Science Journal, 10, pp. 93-101, DOI: 10.23738/ ccsj.i102018.11.

Paglierani P. and Valan F. (2018). ‘Spline interpolation of Munsell data’, in Colour and Colorimetry, Multidisciplinary Contributions Vol. XIVB Proceedings of the 14th Conferenza del Colore, Firenze, September 2018.

Press, W. H. et al., (2007). Numerical Recipes: The Art of Scientific Computing (3rd ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-88068-8.

Rheinboldt, W. C. and Menard, J. P. (1960). Mechanized Conversion of Colorimetric Data to Munsell Renotations, J. Opt. Soc. Am. 50, 802-807.

Simon, F. T. and Frost, J. A., (1987). A New Method for the Conversion of CIE Colorimetric Data to Munsell Notations, COLOR Research and Application, Vol. 12, Number 5, pp. 256-260.

Smith, N. S. et al. (1990). A Colour Notation Conversion Program, COLOR Research and Application, Vol. 15, Number 6, pp. 338-343.

SolidWork. Available at: (Accessed April 2020).

The Munsell and Kubelka-Munk toolbox (2019). Available at: (Accesssed: March 2019).

Tominaga, S. (1993). Color notation conversion by neural networks, Color Research and Application 18 (1993): 253-259.

Wyszecki, G. and Stiles, W. S. (2000). Color Science: Concepts and Methods, Quantitative Data and Formulae. 2nd edn. Hoboken: Wiley.







How to Cite

“Graphical interpolation of Munsell data” (2020) Cultura e Scienza del Colore - Color Culture and Science, 12(02), pp. 21–30. doi:10.23738/CCSJ.120203.