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A Brief Guide to Understand RGB Color Model

RGB color model

The RGB color model refers to the additive model of color where red, green, and blue light all are together added in different ways to create a wide array of colors. This name of color model derives from the three additive primary colors that are used. They are red, green, and blue. This color model’s main purpose is for the representation, display, and sensing of images especially in electronic systems like TV and computers. However, it has been utilized in conventional photography as well. Even prior to the electronic age, this color model has a sturdy theory already behind it as it was according to human perception in colors.

Apart from that, RGB is the color model that is dependent to device, with different devices, reproduce or detect any particular RGB value in a different way. It is because of the elements of color, such as dyes and phosphors, and their reaction towards each R, G, and B levels may vary from one manufacturer to another, and/or in the same device from time to time. Hence, the color value in this color model doesn’t define the similar color among devices if you do not take color management into account.

To create a color with RGB, you will find three light beams that have to be superimposed: each of red, green, and blue. To superimpose them, you can use emission from the screen in black or using a reflection resulted from a white one. Each of those beams is referred to as an element of the color, with each of them may have arbitration in intensity in the mixture, ranging from fully on to fully off. This color model itself is additive due to the use of those light beams added together with their light spectra add to make the spectrum of the final color, wavelength for wavelength.

Zero intensity in every component adds the darkest or no-light color, referred to as the black, while full intensity of every component gives a white. Then, the quality of white will depend on the traits of the sources of primary lights. However, if they aren’t balanced properly, this will result in a neutral color of white which matches the RGB system’s white point. As the intensity for all elements are the same, the output is the gray shade, either darker or light which depends on the shade’s intensity. Even so, in the case where the intensities are varied, the colorized hue is what is resulted, less or more saturated according to the gaps of the weakest and strongest of the color intensities employed by the main colors.

If one of the elements in RGB system shows the strongest intensity, then the color resulted is a hue that is near the primary color, meaning bluish, reddish, or greenish. As two elements have the similar strongest intensity, the color produced is thus the hue of any secondary color, meaning any shade of cyan, magenta, or yellow.

The secondary color is created by summing two primary colors at least, and with equal intensity. To produce cyan, mixing blue and green is necessary, and yellow is created from red and green. Each secondary color complements one primary color. Hence, when the primary color is added together with its secondary one that complements, white will be produced. In RGB, red is complemented by cyan, green is by magenta, and blue is by yellow.

According to Colorimetric, the RGB model doesn’t determine what it is meant by the three additive primary colors. Hence, the results from mixing them aren’t defined as absolute, rather comparative to the primary colors. As the exact chromatricities of those three colors are defined, then this color model turns into an absolute or ultimate color space; for instance: Adobe RGB and sRGB.


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