Many contemporary realist painters use the system that Albert Munsell developed about a century ago. Munsell’s color system was adopted by Frank Reilly at the Art Student’s League in New York. From him and his students it passed on through several generations of teaching to contemporary academic realists, such as Jacob Collins and Graydon Parrish.
Munsell’s system divides the spectral hues into ten even steps. In deference to Munsell, I’ve painted the wheel with the reds on the left.
Instead of dividing the pie into threes and twelves, the structure is based on multiples of five, so I’ve represented it as two overlapping star shapes. Division by ten makes sense. We’re used to base ten in money and the metric system.
Students of the Munsell system become accustomed to the ten basic hues: yellow (Y), green-yellow (G-Y), green (G), blue-green (B-G), blue (B), purple-blue (P-B), purple (P), red-purple (R-P), red (R), and yellow-red (Y-R).
This is a much more useful wheel than the traditional artist’s color wheel because the spacing is better, and it allows for exact numerical descriptions of color notes.
The Munsell system is a big topic, which I hope to explore in a future post. A great benefit to the system (as some of you mentioned in the comments after Part 3) is that it permits exact 3-D mapping of hue, value, and chroma, allowing you to navigate precisely through the color space.
But for now, let’s just recognize the Munsell wheel as a different and effective way to lay out the 2-D hue and chroma relationships.
Thanks to Charley Parker of Lines and Colors for the post about this series, and check out Charley's post about the history of the color wheel.
Reviewing the posts in this series:
Part 1: Wrapping the Spectrum
Part 2: Primaries and Secondaries
Part 3: Complements, Afterimages, and Chroma
Part 4: Problems with the Traditional Wheel
Part 5: The Munsell System
Part 6: Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow
Part 7: The Yurmby Wheel