Welcome to my big list of the best books about color. I created this list for designers, decorators, artists, crafters, creative DIYers, and color enthusiasts just like you.

Unlike, many other lists, I didn't merely search Amazon for books on the topic. I own and have read almost every one of these books.

How and Why I Read So Many Books About Color

Years ago, with a small child asleep upstairs and many long and cold New England winter nights to fill, I became obsessed with reading books about color. I read everything color-related I could get my hands on. Earning my Bachelors in Fine Art, followed by many years of experience working with color in my corporate jobs had taught me a great deal, but my appetite for learning about every nuance of color was far from satisfied. So I read and read and read.

With a topic so broad and with so many perspectives on every aspect of color, today I continue to read new books as well as return to my favorites to refresh, renew, and refine my understanding of the intricacies of color. I enjoyed most of the books listed below, and I offer this list to others who are as passionate about color as I am.

Color Meaning, Symbolism, and Psychology

There is more to color than just what meets the eyes. Color influences perceptions, touches emotions, and sways decisions. Explore the fascinating ways our physical bodies, our brains, and our cultures shape the ways in which we interact with color.

History Of Color

Humans have always lived in a world full of color. Examine the ways in which color has influenced our understanding of the world, our language, and our common past.

Pantone: The Twentieth Century in Color
Color in Art
The Color Revolution (Lemelson Center Studies in Invention and Innovation series)
Blue: The History of a Color
Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color That Changed the World
Green: The History of a Color
Indigo: Egyptian Mummies to Blue Jeans
Living Color: The Biological and Social Meaning of Skin Color
Blue Colour Histories
A Red Like No Other: How Cochineal Colored the World
Indigo: In Search of the Color That Seduced the World
The Primary Colors: Three Essays
Bright Earth: Art and the Invention of Color
A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire
Colors: What They Mean and How to Make Them
Color Codes: Modern Theories of Color in Philosophy, Painting and Architecture, Literature, Music, and Psychology
Indigo: The Color that Changed the World
I Don't Have a Favourite Colour
Color Chart: Reinventing Color: 1950 to Today
Colour Histories
Blue Mythologies: Reflections on a Colour
The Red and the Real: An Essay on Color Ontology
The Secondary Colors: Three Essays
Color: A Natural History of the Palette
Cochineal Red: The Art History of a Color (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
The Brilliant History of Color in Art
Black: The History of a Color
Living Colors: The Definitive Guide to Color Palettes Through the Ages
Chroma: A Book of Color
Chromatic Algorithms: Synthetic Color, Computer Art, and Aesthetics after Code
The Rarest Blue: The Remarkable Story of an Ancient Color Lost to History and Rediscovered
Outside Color: Perceptual Science and the Puzzle of Color in Philosophy (MIT Press)
Colour (Whitechapel: Documents of Contemporary Art)

Color Theory

Take a deep dive into understanding the ways in which artists, philosophers, and designers have struggled to make sense out of color. Whether you’re looking for an overview and a basic understanding of the various color vocabularies or you seek fuller understanding of a particular perspective, color theory is a rich and complex topic.

Color Harmony Guides

Whether you’re a DIYer or a professional designer, understanding the principles of color harmony gives you the edge when it comes to making sure a project is perfect. Hone your color harmony skills with these useful books.

The Complete Color Harmony Workbook
Color Harmony Workbook: A Workbook and Guide to Creative Color Combinations
The Complete Color Harmony: Expert Color Information for Professional Color Results
Color Design Workbook: A Real World Guide to Using Color in Graphic Design
Playing with Color: 50 Graphic Experiments for Exploring Color Design Principles
A Book of Colors
Principles of Color: A Review of Past Traditions and Modern Theories of Color Harmony
Color for Designers: Ninety-five things you need to know when choosing and using colors for layouts and illustrations (Creative Core)
Process Color Manual, 24,000 CMYK Combinations for Design, Prepress, and Printing
Colorist: A Practical Handbook for Personal and Professional Use
Color Harmony Compendium: A Complete Color Reference for Designers of All Types, 25th Anniversary Edition
Color Inspirations: More than 3,000 Innovative Palettes from the Colourlovers.Com Community
Color - The Professional's Guide: Understanding, Appreciating and Mastering Color in Art and Design
Practical Color Combinations
An Eye for Color
Color Index - Revised Edition
Color Index 2: Over 1500 New Color Combinations. For Print and Web Media. CMYK and RGB Formulas.
Real World Color Management (2nd Edition)
Design Elements, Color Fundamentals: A Graphic Style Manual for Understanding How Color Affects Design
Colour Mania Book
Color Image Scale

Color Around The World

From the sun-drenched cultures of Mexico to the intricate symbolism of Asian cultures, these books are both useful resources and simply delicious reads. Whether you curl up with these for a little visual exploration or you leave them on a coffee table to tempt your guests, you’ll delight in these books that transport you and your imagination around the world.

Color For Artist & Painters

Roll up your sleeves, put on your smock, and get ready for a range of hands-on guides to effectively mixing and using color in your own art. Both theory and practice, these books help you ground your work in sound principles and techniques.

Color Creates Light: Studies with Hans Hofmann
Creative Color
Color Choices: Making Color Sense Out of Color Theory
Blue and Yellow Don't Make Green: How to Mix the Color You Really Want- Every Time
Color Theory: An essential guide to color-from basic principles to practical applications (Artist's Library)
Making Color Sing, 25th Anniversary Edition: Practical Lessons in Color and Design
Color Harmony in your Paintings
Color Perception in Art
Contemporary Color (Design Concepts)
Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter (James Gurney Art)
1,500 Color Mixing Recipes for Oil, Acrylic & Watercolor: Achieve precise color when painting landscapes, portraits, still lifes, and more
Color Theory Made Easy: A New Approach to Color Theory and How to Apply it to Mixing Paints
Colored Pencil Painting Bible: Techniques for Achieving Luminous Color and Ultrarealistic Effects
Abstract and Colour Techniques in Painting
Acrylic Color Explorations: Painting Techniques for Expressing Your Artistic Voice
Color Mixing Bible: All You'll Ever Need to Know About Mixing Pigments in Oil, Acrylic, Watercolor, Gouache, Soft Pastel, Pencil, and Ink
Color by Betty Edwards: A Course in Mastering the Art of Mixing Colors
Color Lab for Mixed-Media Artists: 52 Exercises for Exploring Color Concepts through Paint, Collage, Paper, and More (Lab Series)
Artist's Color Manual: The Complete Guide to Working with Color
Watercolor Artist's Guide to Exceptional Color
Color in Contemporary Painting: Integrating Practice and Theory
Helen Van Wyk's Favorite Color Recipes
Colour Dynamics: Workbook for Water Colour Painting and Colour Theory (Art & Science)

Color For Crafters, Artist, and Makers

No matter your passion, learn to infuse it with color! I’ve collected books for knitters, painters, jewelry makers, and a host of other pursuits – all geared toward refining your use of color.

Color For Your Garden

There is perhaps no purer and more satisfying way to experience color than to grow it yourself. Learn how to plan gardens to satisfy your craving for color.

Gold Fever
Silver Lining: 2400 Silver Plants for the Garden
Garden Color Book
Emeralds: 1000 Green Flowers and 500 Choice Green Foliage Plants
Color in Garden Design
Black Magic and Purple Passion
A Garden to Dye For: How to Use Plants from the Garden to Create Natural Colors for Fabrics & Fibers

Color For Your Home

Feel intimidated by tackling your home improvements without the guidance of a professional designer? Learn practical strategies for creating a harmonious and stylish home environment with these easy-to-understand guides.

Pure Colour: A Pure Style Sourcebook of Colour Inspiration
The Right Color
Choosing Blue: Color You Can Live with
Choosing Colors: An Expert Choice of the Best Colors to Use in Your Home
Colors for Your Every Mood: Discover Your True Decorating Colors (Capital Lifestyles)
Susan Sargent's The Comfort of Color: inspire * transform * create
Bungalow Colors: Exteriors
Color + Design: Transforming Interior Space
Interior Color By Design, Volume 2: A Design Tool for Homeowners, Designers, and Architects
The Color Scheme Bible: Inspirational Palettes for Designing Home Interiors
Perfect Neutrals: Color you can Live with
House Colors: Exterior Color by Style of Architecture
Color, Environment, & Human Response
Colorscapes: Inspiring Palettes for the Home
House Beautiful Blue: 350 Inspiring Ways to Decorate with Blue

Miscellaneous Color Topics

Here’s my kitchen sink category of books I love just because! Some are quite specific, and some are a little off-the-wall, but that’s part of the pleasure of color.

Many of these books are available in digital versions in addition to the physical book. While in general, I'm a fan of reading on my tablet, for color books, I much prefer hard copies. I love the experience of flipping back and forth among various images and explanations in a physical book, and I also find that most color illustrations and pictures are more accurate in a hard copy than a digital image on my screen.

Whether in digital ink or on a physical page, I encourage everyone to explore the rich and varied books and topics below. Enjoy browsing my virtual bookshelves!

Leave a comment below and let me know if you enjoyed this list. Also, let me know if there are any books that you have enjoyed reading that is not included in my big list of books about color so that I can check them out as additions to this list and my library.

PLEASE NOTE: Sensational Color participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. What this means is that as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases,

Feature Image Credit: Kate Smith

Read Time: 13 min
  • Irma says:

    Thanks for putting together this amazing book list. It rocks!

    • Kate Smith says:

      Your welcome, Irma. Thank you for the great comment. I’m smiling knowing you enjoyed the list.

  • >