The Simplest Way to Colors

Second in a series of blog entries about color theory with live help from the ColorTheory(Step 2) First_post,  Next_post

The first thing I want to illustrate what James Gurney calls the Yurmby wheel. It is a concise summary of the engineer’s answer to the question of color- what is the simplest way to make colors?

Additive colors

The modern engineer (for this discussion, anytime after color TV) was uses three lights to make color, one red light, one green light, and one blue light, to make up the RGB color system . This works because the eye in most people sees color through three types of cone cells, red-sensitive, green-sensitive, and blue-sensitive (there are exceptions, look here and here). It’s the basis of LED flat computer screens and it is the standard for defining color in HTML for the World Wide Web. It also goes by the name of the “additive color model” and is often illustrated by a figure like the one on the right.

But the engineers were preceded by the printers, who have been using three colors (plus black for a clean look) cyan, magenta, and yellow for full color printing since 1902 in the CYMK color system . It goes by the name of the “subtractive color model” and is often illustrated by a figure like the one to the left.

Subtractive Colors

Note that both figures cycle through the same six colors- red, yellow, green, cyan, blue, and magenta. So let’s show how they are just two views of the same color wheel.

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