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Journal of the Optical Society of America

Journal of the Optical Society of America

  • Vol. 49, Iss. 12 — Dec. 1, 1959
  • pp: 1159–1168

New Pigment-Mixture Diagram and Color System

EDWARD FRIEL  »View Author Affiliations

JOSA, Vol. 49, Issue 12, pp. 1159-1168 (1959)

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This paper deals with processes which operate when pigments are combined. Usually it is assumed that one may learn of these processes only by trial and error and that information acquired in this way cannot be imparted to others. From experience as a painter and decorator the writer has long believed otherwise; that is, that these processes are simple enough so that, given a proper method, useful information about them could be organized and presented in a form understandable to any interested person. With this in mind a simple diagram was devised to show general mixture-relationships among red, yellow, and blue pigments and their combinations. Though this was useful to a degree, its limitations were evident, since it did not deal concretely with most pigments in common use. By trial and error, points indicating a selection of pigments were incorporated into the diagram, with the objective that color-mixture relationships among the pigments should be expressed in terms of linear relationships among the points. The advantages of such an arrangement were at once apparent. Using this as a point of departure and drawing from the experience of people inquiring into similar processes operating when colored lights are combined, a new color system was built, consisting of devices and conventions designed to supplement and facilitate use of information so presented. To what degree the pigment positions had been so arranged as to secure the nearest-possible approach to linear color-mixture relations remained for a time unknown. Meanwhile doubt was expressed that it is possible to arrange them so as to provide useful approximations of the relationships involved. Then a new experimental technique was devised. This led to correction of errors in locating the pigment positions and produced evidence that information about color-mixture relationships among pigments can be summarized very well in diagramatic form. Some features of the color system mentioned are noted. The experiments are described and data presented for review.

EDWARD FRIEL, "New Pigment-Mixture Diagram and Color System," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 49, 1159-1168 (1959)

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  1. Called a trefoil because of its similarity to the frame of the Gothic window of that name.
  2. For the genealogy of the diagram the writer is indebted to W. T. Wintringham of the Bell Telephone Laboratories.
  3. This observed relationship does not hold—even roughly—for all pigments. As will appear later, the phthalocyanine green has a color-mixture range comparable to that of the reference red, yellow, and blue pigments of the selection under consideration here.
  4. A ten-step lightness scale was established similar in general appearance to the Munsell value scale, but dissimilar in that its reference black is that of the pigment drop black in mass-tone, and its reference white is that of the white enamel described in Table I. The eight intermediate steps result from intermixtures of this black and this white spaced at visually equal intervals when evaluated against a grey background.
  5. A description appears in Edward Friel, The Friel System, a Language of Color (Trefoil Color Research, Inc., Seattle, 1959).
  6. In terms of a lightness scale which may be constructed separately and especially for different representative selections of colorants.
  7. For a description of the method, see the Appendix.
  8. An adaptation of a technique devised for use in color matching. For a procedure so simple it provides good viewing conditions for chromaticness comparisons of this kind.
  9. Chrome yellow light, chromiim oxide, chrome green light, chrome green medium, phthalocyanine green, chrome green dark, Prussian blue, phthalocyanine blue, ultramarine blue, madder lake, toluidine red, vermilion, chrome orange light, and yellow oxide.
  10. This can be done by any interested person of approximately normal vision at nominal cost. An instructive exercise in pigment manipulation and a short excursion into the realm of color relations are to be had in the process.

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