Color Theory

All of these books in this section are worth picking up.  In my opinion, each book is a piece of the whole pie for the subject of color theory and all of these books should be carefully studied and exercised.

Click To Buy – Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter (James Gurney Art)

By James Gurney

The Book in Three Sentences:  This is the definitive encyclopedia for color use in 2D art and every artist should have this in their collection.  The book thoroughly covers every concept of light, how it affects what we see, and how an artist would utilize these concepts.  There are fantastic illustrations to illustrate each and every point in the book.

Click To Buy – Color in Sketching and Rendering

by Arthur L. Guptill

The Book in Three Sentences:  This is a worthy find for the watercolor artist as all the exercises and demonstrations are done in watercolor.  There are great “old” color charts and fantastic step process images showing some really cool build up techniques for instant textures of every kind in architecture and nature manicured-landscape design.  The examples might feel dated but the information is fantastic and one of the only sources like it out there, a worthy find and definitely worth it!

Click To Buy – Interaction of Color: 50th Anniversary Edition

by Josef Albers

The Book in Three Sentences:  This is a fantastic book on the many different ways that color works, from the surface interaction to the colors working in opposition or harmony with one another.  This is a book for any type of artist, and is a useful studio manual for everything from painting to graphic design.  The book breaks down different color theory systems, recipes and color effects.

Click To Buy – The Elements of Color: A Treatise on the Color System of Johannes Itten Based on His Book the Art of Color

By Johannes Itten

The Book in Three Sentences:  Considered the definitive color theorist of the 20th century, Johannes Itten’s book has been the standard text book used in universities around the world for over 50 years and includes color theories, recipes, formulas, effects, and illustrations for every topic.  If you can find the larger version, The Art of Color, it includes exercises that this primer book does not, but it is very expensive.

Click To Buy – The New Munsell® Student Color Set 3rd Edition

By Jim Long

The Book in Three Sentences:  The Munsell color system is our modern color theory/fact and industry standard.  This is where hue, value, chroma are charted and defined, complete with swatch matching exercises to help comprehend the difference in the three color properties.  This edition is a bit more difficult to find but this version is absolutely worth getting.

Click To Buy – Light and Color

by R. Daniel Overheim and David L. Wagner

The Book in Three Sentences:  This is a very scientific book, complete with equations and charts so please be prepared if you happen to purchase this book.  It is the definitive book on the science of color, from how we see to how it is printed and everything in between.  It is not well illustrated and leaves much to the imagination regarding tangible examples, typical of a book written in the 1960’s – early 90’s.  This was the manual of choice for Art Center in its heyday of fantastic instruction and great student turn out, and if you are in to objective data and learning this book is everything you need to understand the function of color.

Click To Buy – Values for Pictures and Words Worth a Thousand Words : A Manual for Realist and Representational Painters

by A. Dorian

The Book in Three Sentences:  This is a book on the Reilly Method of Painting, organizing the colors and labeling them for painting production.  It is a very cut and dry book with okay examples throughout the text.  It offers insight into the painting procedure of Frank Reilly and how he taught the process and worth the purchase if you are one in search of information on the Reilly Method.