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Colour Spectrum

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Colour Spectrum

Color gamut is the entire range of colors and tones visible by the human eye. Typically, an imaging system will be able to display a subset of theses colors in space as shown in the CIE 1931 color space chromaticity diagram. The human eye is capable of differentiating 7 million shades of colour, yet there are other colours in the infrared of ultraviolet wavelengths that we do not detect.

From this, we have gained a number of different colour systems, based on a set of prime colours, such as RGB and CMYK. In painting, all the colours can be created from just three prime colours.

Colour gamut
(Human eye, RGB & CMYK)

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Correct answer: RYB (red, yellow, blue)

In paint, mixing blue with yellow creates green. Adding red, will gererate a dark black, thus RYB represents the prime colours for the artist’s palette. RGB (red, green, blue) applies to light-waves. When these frequencies are mixed they create white light. CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) offers a larger gamut than RYB, and so is used by computer printers.




Did you know that magenta was artificially created in the middle of the 1800’s, and does not appear on the visible spectrum of light? On the colour wheel it appears between blue and red.

There are a few different models of colour, and yet, upon closer examination, not one paints the whole picture of how colour actually works.

William W. Williams