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Color Space and Its Divisions: Color Order from Antiquity to the Present

Color Space and Its Divisions: Color Order from Antiquity to the Present

Rolf G. Kuehni

ISBN: 978-0-471-43226-5

Apr 2003

422 pages

Select type: O-Book


It has been postulated that humans can differentiate between millions of gradations in color. Not surprisingly, no completely adequate, detailed catalog of colors has yet been devised, however the quest to understand, record, and depict color is as old as the quest to understand the fundamentals of the physical world and the nature of human consciousness. Rolf Kuehni’s Color Space and Its Divisions: Color Order from Antiquity to the Present represents an ambitious and unprecedented history of man’s inquiry into color order, focusing on the practical applications of the most contemporary developments in the field.

Kuehni devotes much of his study to geometric, three-dimensional arrangements of color experiences, a type of system developed only in the mid-nineteenth century. Color spaces are of particular interest for color quality-control purposes in the manufacturing and graphics industries. The author analyzes three major color order systems in detail: Munsell, OSA-UCS, and NCS. He presents historical and current information on color space developments in color vision, psychology, psychophysics, and color technology. Chapter topics include:

  • A historical account of color order systems
  • Fundamentals of psychophysics and the relationship between stimuli and experience
  • Results of perceptual scaling of colors according to attributes
  • History of the development of mathematical color space and difference formulas
  • Analysis of the agreements and discrepancies in psychophysical data describing color differences
  • An experimental plan for the reliable, replicated perceptual data necessary to make progress in the field

Experts in academia and industry, neuroscientists, designers, art historians, and anyone interested in the nature of color will find Color Space and Its Divisions to be the authoritative reference in its field.


Chapter 1. The Concept of Color Space and Color Solid.

Chapter 2. Historical Development of Color Order Systems.

Chapter 3. Psychophysics.

Chapter 4. Color Attributes and Perceptual Attribute Scaling.

Chapter 5. Psychophysical Scaling of Color Attributes: Stimulus and Perception.

Chapter 6. Historical Development of Color Space and Color Difference Formulas.

Chapter 7. Major Color Order Systems and Their Psychophysical Structure.

Chapter 8. From Color-Matching Error to Large Color Differences.

Chapter 9. Conclusions and Outlook.






""…a comprehensive and scholarly work on both the history and performance of color spaces and color difference formulas, as well as an extensive discussion on the attributes of color perception."" (Journal of Electronic Imaging, October 2004)

""When participants in color research and application have read this new book, I am confident that they with stand with me as I rise to salute Rolf Kuehni for this contribution."" (Color Research and Application, April 2004)

"" inclusive mosaic of the history of color-order systems...dip into it as a sightseer, historian, or philosopher.  Read it as a color scientist who wants to know who did what first."" (Physics Today, December 2003)

""...perhaps the first extended historical account of the significant steps in the development of thinking about color order in Western culture...useful not only to experts...highly recommended."" (Choice, Vol. 41, No. 1, September 2003)

""...a comprehensive reference book..."" (Color Technology, 2003)

""...Useful for experts in academia and industry..."" (World Surface Coatings Abstracts, January 2004)

""...provides both a fascinating historical account of color order systems...and a trenchant discussion of the problems of color measurement...of interest for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of the nature of color..."" (JCT Coatings Tech, March 2004)