A color picture is separated into three color component pictures, which are divided respectively by first, second and third block coding means into blocks and encoded. In the first block coding means, one of the color component pictures is encoded, for each block, into gray level codes representing gray level components in the block and a resolution code representing the distribution of the gray level codes in the block. In this case, when the gray level in the block undergoes a little change, an average gray level can be used as the gray level code and the resolution code can be omitted. The second and third block coding means may be identical in construction with the first block coding means. The resolution code of the block obtained by the first block coding means can also be employed in the coding of the corresponding blocks by the second and third block coding means. In the first block coding means, the size of the blocks into which the color component picture is divided is altered locally in accordance with the state of the color component picture. The block size thus changed in the first block coding means can also be used in the coding by the second and third block coding means.