It is important to understand how color is communicated by your scanner, monitor, and printer in order to achieve a consistent and accurate reproduction of the colors you desire. A basic understanding of the color spaces and color management of your equipment helps you achieve the precise color you want for your project. Color management is the process of ensuring that the final colors you see in your project are as close to, or as accurate a reproduction of the ones you want no matter which devices you use.
We all see color differently. Color is subjective to the human eye. Each device that interacts with your project's file: the scanner, monitor, and printer may have a different color space. For example, a color that is visible to the human eye may not be reproducible by your printer.
Because there are so many color variations, a precise method for defining each color is required. For example, once you find the perfect shade of light orange, you need to be able to reproduce that color and possibly tell others how to do the same. A color model defines that perfect shade of light orange by breaking it down into precise components that allow you to accurately transmit the information to other people and to the electronic devices you use to create projects. A color model is a system used to organize and define colors according to a set of basic properties which are reproducible.
There are many different color models that define colors, for example, HSB, RGB, CMYK, and CIE Lab color models. The RGB and CMYK color models are only two of a number of models developed to suit a variety of digital design and desktop publishing applications. It is not necessary to be familiar with all these models, but it is helpful to be familiar with a few of the more widely used ones.
Without any light or a viewer, objects all around us are colorless. Color only occurs in our minds after our visual sensory system has seen the wavelengths that give objects their color. Based on how people perceive color, the HSB color model defines color in three attributes:
The HSB color model
The HSB color model
Hue (H) is the name we give a color in everyday language. Hues form the Color Wheel. The hue of a lemon is yellow, that of a strawberry is red. Saturation (S) refers to vividness of the color or how much color concentration does the object contain. The figurine does not contain very much yellow when compared to the yellow saturation of lemon. Colors can be separated into bright or dark colors when their Brightness (B) is compared. Brightness refers to adding or removing whiteness from a color. The mask is bright and lighter then the dark yellow lemon.
The millions of colors your monitor produces can all be described as amounts of red, green, and blue. These three color components form the basis for the RGB (Red, Green, and Blue) color model. Each of the three colors is assigned a numeric value between 0 and 255. The RGB model is based on colors of light, and higher RGB values correspond to the presence of greater quantities of white light. Consequently, higher RGB values result in lighter colors. When all three color components are at the maximum value, the resulting color is white light. Because the RGB model creates colors by adding light, it is called an additive color model. Monitors and scanners can employ the additive color model because they emit light. They emit particles of red, green, and blue light and create the illusion of millions of different colors.
The RGB color model
The RGB color model
One of the limitations of the RGB model is that it is device dependent. This means that not only are there color variations between monitors and scanners by different manufacturers but there are color variations between identical devices from the same manufacturer. All monitors drift over time and display colors differently making it imperative to regularly calibrate your monitor and the other electronic devices you use to create your projects. The RGB model cannot be a color standard because its color results are not 100 percent repeatable.
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