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Journal of the Optical Society of America

Journal of the Optical Society of America

  • Vol. 33, Iss. 7 — Jul. 1, 1943
  • pp: 355–375

Tristimulus Specification of the Munsell Book of Color from Spectrophotometric Measurements


JOSA, Vol. 33, Issue 7, pp. 355-375 (1943)

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The development of the Inter-Society Color Council-National Bureau of Standards (ISCC-NBS) system of color names, based on the standards in the Munsell Book of Color, made it necessary to specify the master standards of this book in fundamental terms. Accordingly, spectral reflection curves were run for each of the 421 master standards on the General Electric recording spectro-photometer at the National Bureau of Standards, using slit widths of approximately 4 millimicrons. Various corrections were applied to these spectrophotometric data in accordance with methods regularly used for such work at the bureau. Colorimetric computations were then made with these data, resulting in tristimulus specifications according to the 1931 ICI standard observer and coordinate system. Four illuminants were used: ICI Illuminants A and C, representative of incandescent-lamp light and average daylight, respectively, Illuminant D (lightly over-cast north sky), and Illuminant S (extremely blue sky). The colorimetric specificatio D of the Munsell standards for all four illuminants are thus given. The trilinear coordinates for the Munsell standards calculated for ICI Illuminant C have been plotted on large chromaticity (x, y) diagrams and constant Munsell chroma lines drawn in. (Similar values obtained by Glenn and Killian at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1935 for Munsell color standards bearing the same hue-value-chroma designations have also been plotted on the diagram and differences between the two sets of data are discussed.) These diagrams serve as means for determining the Munsell notation and thereby the ISCC-NBS color name for any color whose trilinear coordinates and apparent reflectance are given.

KENNETH L. KELLY, KASSON S. GIBSON, and DOROTHY NICKERSON, "Tristimulus Specification of the Munsell Book of Color from Spectrophotometric Measurements," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 33, 355-375 (1943)

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  1. Research Associate for the American Pharmaceutical Association at the National Bureau of Standards
  2. Figures in parentheses indicate the literature references at the end of this paper.
  3. For YR 2/2. As is to be expected the discrepancies in chromaticity are greatest at the lowest value level.
  4. Differences in Munsell value corresponding to the average differences in Y shown in Table IV are significant only at the lowest values. The difference, Δ Y = 0.0039, corresponds to ΔV = 0.15 at value level 2. It is believed that the NBS data are more reliable than the Glenn-Killian data at these low value levels. For the neutral samples N1/, N2/, and N3/, the Glenn-Killian values of Y are from 0.005 to 0.006 higher than the NBS values given in Table II. Independent check of these samples visually on the Priest-Lange reflectometer gave values lower than the Glenn-Killian values by 0.004, and closely agreeing with the NBS data of Table II.

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