Additive Color Process




dditive color is color created by mixing light of two or more different colors. Red, green, and blue are the additive primary colors normally used in additive color system. Additive color is in contrast to subtractive color, in which colors are created by subtracting (absorbing) parts of the spectrum of light present in ordinary white light, by means of colored pigments or dyes, such as those in paints, inks, and the three dye layers in typical color photographs on film.

The combination of two of the standard three additive primary colors in equal proportions produces an additive secondary color—cyan, magenta or yellow—which, in the form of dyes or pigments, are the standard primary colors in subtractive color systems. The subtractive system using primaries that are the secondaries of the additive system can be viewed as an alternative approach to reproducing a wide range of colors by controlling the relative amounts of red, green, and blue light that reach the eye.
Computer monitors and televisions are the most common examples of additive color. Examination with a sufficiently powerful magnifying lens will reveal that each pixel in CRT, LCD and most other types of color video displays is composed of red, green and blue sub-pixels, the light from which combines in various proportions to produce all the other colors as well as white and shades of gray. The colored sub-pixels do not overlap on the screen, but when viewed from a normal distance they overlap and blend on the eye’s retina, producing the same result as external superimposition.

Another example of additive color can be found in the overlapping projected colored lights often used in theatrical lighting for plays, concerts, circus shows and night clubs.[1]

The full gamut of color available in any additive color system is defined by all the possible combinations of all the possible luminosities of each primary color in that system. In chromaticity space, the gamut is a plane convex polygon with corners at the primaries. For three primaries, it is a triangle.

Results obtained when mixing additive colors are often counterintuitive for people accustomed to the more everyday subtractive color system of pigments, dyes, inks and other substances which present color to the eye by reflection rather than emission. For example, in subtractive color systems green is a combination of yellow and blue; in additive color, red + green = yellow and no simple combination will yield green. Additive color is a result of the way the eye detects color, and is not a property of light. There is a vast difference between yellow light, with a wavelength of approximately 580 nm, and a mixture of red and green light. However, both stimulate our eyes in a similar manner, so we do not detect that difference. (see eye (cytology), color vision.)

• Excerpted from :


Subtractive Color Process



A subtractive color model explains the mixing of a limited set of dyes, inks, paint pigments or natural colorants to create a wider range of colors, each the result of partially or completely subtracting (that is, absorbing) some wavelengths of light and not others. The color that a surface displays depends on which parts of the visible spectrum are not absorbed and therefore remain visible.

Subtractive color systems start with light, presumably white light. Colored inks, paints, or filters between the viewer and the light source or reflective surface subtract wavelengths from the light, giving it color. If the incident light is other than white, our visual mechanisms are able to compensate well, but not perfectly, often giving a flawed impression of the “true” color of the surface.

Conversely, additive color systems start with darkness. Light sources of various wavelengths are added in various proportions to produce a range of colors. The component lights may be inherently colored or simply white light that has passed through suitable subtractive color filters; their combination is an additive one in either case. Usually, three primary colors are combined to stimulate humans’ trichromatic color vision, sensed by the three types of cone cells in the eye, giving an apparently full range.

• Excerpted from :