Colour Management in Print and Textile Design

Colour Management in Print and Textile Design

Colour perception has a great effect on the textile, paper, and paint industries. It affects the colour hues, shades, reflection, contrasts, designs and customer satisfaction. Psychologically speaking, colour combinations make the product more appealing and attractive as they complement it by giving depth and texture. The Optical Society of America defines colour as a sensation that arises due to physical stimuli. However, colours may be perceived in different ways by different professionals and clients. To ensure accuracy in the perception and communication of colours, it is beneficial for industries to follow a universal colour system like the munsell colour chart.

What is the Munsell Colour System?

Many contemporary designers and industries use the colour identification system developed by Professor Albert H Munsell in the early decades of the 20th century. He developed a colour space intending to standardize colour specifications based on the atlas of colours. He desired to develop a system that artists and creators could use to accurately identify, describe and match colours in an orderly approach. There were many colour systems before this which categorised colour into three-dimensional solid colours. However, he was the first to establish a system with each colour charted based on their dimensions of hue (basic colour), value (lightness) and chroma (colour intensity) in an order. It has outlasted its contemporary models and has led to several innovations like the CIELAB and CIECAM02 models.

Breaking Down the Munsell Colour Chart

Munsell’s system consists of three independent dimensions of colour that are represented cylindrically in three dimensions. He developed this system considering the measurements of people’s visual responses to stimuli. He made the colours as close to uniform as possible perceptually. 


It is measured in degrees horizontally and has categories like red, blue, green, etc. Each colour has a letter assigned to it, such as Yellow (Y), Red-Yellow (RY), Green-Blue (GB) and such.  


It is measured from the neutral vertical axis that is grey, and it is radially outward. It represents the strength and purity of the colour. Chroma has a rating of number 2 and up, which indicates the colour’s strength. Lighter shades have a higher number than darker ones. 


It is measured from 0 (black) to 10 (white) vertically on the core cylinder. Value describes the colour’s dark and light shade. Each shade has a number assigned to it in ascending order.

How Munsell Colour System Helps with Colour Management 

Imagine a client interaction where they have an idea of the colour they are looking for, although they cannot vocalise it. Sometimes it could be a feeling, an intuition, or a preference that is immeasurable and cannot be referenced. They might provide a vague description of the colour but might not be able to get it right. The munsell colour chart and the Munsell Book of Colour help when clients want specific shades of colour on their walls, furniture, or clothes, but they cannot picture it.

When companies and industries use the Munsell Colour System, they can communicate their needs and preferences clearly by expressing the value assigned to the shade. For example, in 7.5PB 5/12, the PB stands for purplish-blue, 7.5 indicates the specific shade, the 12 indicates the chroma, and the 5 indicates the lightness value. The atlas helps industries combine the right shades of paint in a textile production plant, review and examine the products, and efficiently communicate with clients regarding colours. It also helps with computer colour matching and quality colour management in print and textile industries by correlating and predicting the recipe to produce the target shade on the first try.