Munsell Palette: March 2013

Let’s take a look at a lovely spring flower, the daffodil (also known as the Narcissus, its more proper biological name).

Figure 1: Munsell colors for March 2013

Although enthusiasts and appreciators know that there is a wide range of colors and appearances in the daffodil family, we’ll concentrate on the familiar yellow daffodil. The first thing to notice is that daffodil petals have two distinctly different hues, to go with their distinct patterns. The inner petals are a more orange yellow, and the outer petals are greener.

We see here that the inner petals (the corona) are 5Y 8/12. This is an extremely brilliant and chromatic yellow - it’s rare to find something more chromatic in nature, in fact, except for other very brilliant flowers, and some exotic birds and insects. In isolation, it is in the center of the Munsell Yellow hue (the 5-numbered hues are all considered central, or “true” hues uninfluenced by their adjacent hues).

However, when compared against the six outer petals (the perianth), it is visibly more orange, and the outer petals are more green. Here, we see that the outer petals are about 7.5Y 8.5/10. The outer petals are therefore also slightly lighter in value, and lower in chroma, although still extremely chromatic at 10. (The 8.5 value chips are present in the Munsell Book of Color for yellow hues because it’s possible to distinguish a large range of colors that are at such high extremes of value and chroma.

In a mature flower, the spathe, the sheath that protects the flower until it opens, begins to dry. We measured ours in the example below at about 2.5Y 4/2, a value/chroma combination common in dried vegetation, although still slightly yellower than common tree leaves, bark and wood.

And finally, the stem is a fairly uniform 7.5GY 4/4. Right at the base, it will increase in value and drop in chroma (i.e. will trend toward, but not reach, white) to a variable degree, well within the range of the artist’s discretion.

These four colors, and the gradients between them, will give you a broad range to capture the likeness and character of these beautiful flowers.