The Science of Color
In grade school we learn that there are three primary colors — red, yellow and blue — that when combined produce secondary colors such as green, purple and orange, and all the various shades and variations on the primary and secondary colors. However, these are the primary colors of pigment and different systems apply to the colors that we see on computer screens and the colors that we see in printed media and photographs.
Colors would not be possible without light because color is, in essence, light either reflected off of objects we see or viewed directly from the light source. When light is passed through a prism, the light beam changes direction, and the wavelengths are separated, causing the prism to produce the colors of the electromagnetic spectrum. Rainbows are light refracted through water particles in the air. Humans can only perceive a small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum — from 4.3-7.5 x 1014 Hz in frequency — and it is the wavelength of the radiation that determines the color of light that we are seeing. Each color has its own wavelength. Infrared, microwave, radio, television and electrical power have lower frequencies than visible light, and ultraviolet, X-rays and gamma rays have higher frequencies. <font="-1">
Key terms to understanding the science of color:
Related articles on Webopedia:
Unlike the primary colors of pigment, the primary colors of light are red, green (not yellow) and blue, commonly referred to as RGB. The pigment color system does not apply to computer monitors because colors are created on monitors by adding light. RGB is an additive color system, which means that color is added to a black background. Black is the absence of light and therefore the absence of color. Secondary colors, such as cyan, magenta and yellow, are created by combining the primary colors. The color white is achieved by adding the three primary colors together in equal amounts.
There is, however, a third color system called subtractive, commonly referred to as CMYK. The primary colors of the subtractive system are cyan (C), magenta (M) and yellow (Y), the same colors that are the secondary colors of the RGB system. The letter "K" in CMYK stands for black. The subtractive color process is based on light reflected from an object and passed through pigments or dyes that absorb certain wavelengths, allowing others to be reflected. Unlike the additive system, which begins with black and adds color, the subtractive system begins with white and subtracts color. CMYK is commonly used in printing as most print begins with a white page that reflects white (RGB) light. To reproduce color on the paper, transparent pigments (cyan, magenta and yellow) are used to filter out the RGB wavelengths in various combinations. In theory, the combination of these three colors should produce black, but the fourth color black in CMYK is needed to produce true black. The secondary colors of the subtractive system are red, green and blue, the primary colors of the additive system.
DID YOU KNOW...
Approximately seven million different colors can be perceived by the human eye? [Source]
With cost and security in mind, we look at five cloud storage options that will suit the needs of most home and SMB owners. Read More »Windows 10 Tips for Desktop PC
Five basic tips to help you customize Windows 10 on your desktop PC. Read More »29 Free Android Apps for Cash-Strapped Students
From wacky alarm clocks to lecture hall tools and after class entertainment, these Android apps are a good fit for a student's life and budget. Read More »
- Watch Datamation's editor James Maguire moderate roundtable discussions with tech experts from companies such as Accenture, Dell, Blue Jeans Network, Microsoft and more »
Learn about each of the five generations of computers and major technology developments that have led to the current devices that we use today. Read More »Small Business Marketing's Greatest Hits
The following compilation of small business marketing tips highlights some of the expert advice published over at Small Business Computing. Read More »13 Best Free Android Apps
From secure messaging to document editing, our top free must-have apps have been rated, reviewed and named the best free Android apps of 2015. Read More »