Color Models (Color Management Part-3)

We have now discussed why we need color management, and what goes into getting color accuracy. Now let’s talk about what needs to go into your workflow so you can maintain that accuracy and eliminate any errors on your part when producing finished work. To begin, we need to understand Color Models.

When working with color there are systems used, both digitally and physically, to create a full range of different colors from a small set of primary colors. These systems are called color models. The two I will focus on are RGB and CMYK.

RGB Color Model

The RGB color model uses Red, Green, and Blue as its primary colors. This is described as an additive color model. The additive color model displays color as a result of light being transmitted or added. The total absence of light would then be perceived as black. A combination of different levels of red, green, and blue light would produce various colors.

This means that any tool we use that transmits light is using the RGB color model. Such as TV’s, smartphones, tablets, scanners, projectors, and computer monitors.

CMYK Color Model

The CMYK color model uses Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black as its primary colors. This model is described as being a subtractive color model. The subtractive color model displays color using ink or pigment, light is then absorbed or subtracted by the ink. As you add more ink, less light is reflected. In areas where you have no ink, the light being reflected would be perceived as white (if printing on a white substrate).

The tools that are more tangible use the CMYK model. Printers are the most common tools that use this model, but you can classify other mediums such as Printmaking or Painting under this model as well.

What this means for you?

To put it simply, a color model is basically the method in which your chosen tool creates various colors. What this means for you is not much. There is not a lot of control you have over this but it is good to understand how your tool works to help you become a master of it. As I am talking about digital color, I will focus primarily on the RGB color model.

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