Munsell Palette: October 2012

The Munsell Palette for October 2012 is all about pumpkins!

Figure 1: Munsell colors for October 2012

This month, with Halloween looming, we take a look at its representative gourd, the pumpkin. Pumpkins come in sizes ranging from tiny, decorative handfuls to immense, tractor-borne monstrosities, but the kind that are associated with the holiday and carved and are set in holiday arrangement tend to be around basketball-sized, and fall within a fairly narrow range of colors. In our examination, we found four average colors for pumpkins that were representative of typical local colors.

The color of the skin of the ripe pumpkin ranges from 2.5YR 5/10 for larger, carvable ones, to a bit lighter and yellower at 5YR 6/12 for the smaller, more decorative ones. Pumpkins are quite chromatic in both examples, and around midrange values. As they get physically larger, they redden slightly in hue. Younger pumpkins that haven't ripened yet will be emerging from a very dark yellow-green: 5GY 3/2. And finally, the more neutral stem area will average to around 5Y 5/2, and the chroma will sometimes drop to near-neutral in certain parts of the stem that have been bleached by sunshine and dried.

Let's look at the colors one by one.

2.5YR 5/10 (large pumpkin)

The large, carvable pumpkins came in at about 2.5YR 5/10 across the board.

5YR 6/12 (small pumpkin)

The smaller pumpkins were slightly yellower in hue, and slightly lighter in value (and more chromatic) than the larger ones. Note that this particular pumpkin still has green patches on it as it ripens, which we'll look at more closely below.

5GY 3/2 (green patches)

The green of the unripened pumpkin is 5GY 3/2, a dark and chromatic color. It is often directly adjacent to areas of the lighter orange, and the contrast between the hues, values and chromas of the ripe and unripe areas is dramatic.

In this particular image, which was taken on a brilliant, sunny day, note the slightly blue cast of the green-yellow chip and the fleshtones from the strong blue sky. We have left this in the image without adjusting the overall color temperature, to demonstrate how the color temperature affects everything in the image. The orange of the pumpkins in the preceding images is a near-complement to the blue sky, and so the net effect is merely a slight drop in chroma, but the hue shift on green-yellow is much more noticeable.

5Y 5/2 (stem averages)

The stem is the most complicated part of the pumpkin from a color standpoint. The average local color is 5Y 5/2, a mid-value, low-chroma yellow, almost neutral in its effect. You can see from this image that there is a fair amount of variation in the vertical striations of the stem, and this is only an average. Some parts of the stem near the base are actually green, and the 5GY 3/2 color above is a good fit for that. In the lighter areas where the stem is very dry and in direct light, the effect is almost neutral, so a small amount of 5GY 5/2 mixed with neutrals of the appropriate values will produce a convincing effect of the variation found in the stem.

As with all of these palette demonstrations, it is important to remember that these colors are local colors, before they are affected by light and shadows, and as such they represent the mid-tones of the objects. In shadow, they will be darker and less chromatic, and in light they will be higher in value and generally more chromatic.

Next month, we will continue with another autumn-related palette, before winter sets in (in the northern hemisphere!).