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Color: Models

Learn about the various color models.


Color is something that we can all differentiate between. Most of us have little problem differentiating between red and blue, or even between red and pink. Color is also something that's been part of our lives, and part of our education system. Most of us learned about color before we learned the alphabet -- yet as the process of growing up occurred, many of us forgot what a joy color can be!

Color Models

One of the biggest joys of colors is mixing them! With paints, we can easily mix red and white to create pink -- and also mix red and blue to create purple. Most of you may also remember that mixing blue and yellow creates green. Essentially, you can thus create any color you want to paint as long as you have three primary color tubes: red, blue, and yellow plus a tube each of black and white.

But colors do not mix the same way within our computer screens! To create green on your computer, you won't mix blue and yellow -- in fact rather bizarrely, you would mix equal portions of red and green to create yellow! That's so strange, and the reason for this strange state of affairs is because computer screens (even TV screens and all types of electronic devices) mix light sources to create colors rather than mixing pigment dyes. We all are used to mixing pigment dyes, and the resultant colors we see with our human eyes are dependent on the light sources that illuminate them. Thus the light source decides how we identify a particular color. But when light sources themselves become a source of color, everything changes!

To accommodate the different ways in which colors mix and form different colors, and also for several other reasons – we use different color models to identify colors. There are several color models, as explained below:

  • CMYK: The one closest in theory to our human perception is the CMYK color model that uses four base colors: Cyan (C), Magenta (M), Yellow (Y), and Black (K). This color model is mainly used by the print industry for brochures, posters, and other printing needs.

  • RGB: This color model mixes the colors of light and is mainly used in the electronic sphere, such as computer screens and TVs. This model has three base colors: Red (R), Green (G), and Blue (B).

  • Hex: This is the hexadecimal color model that is essentially an extension of the RGB model. The only difference is that a hexadecimal base of numbers is used by this model – these values are mainly used in HTML, the language used to create web sites.

  • HSL: This model does yield colors but does not use them as a base. Instead, this color model uses three color properties to create colors – these three properties are H (Hue), Saturation (S), and Luminosity (L).

Of course, the color models listed above are not exhaustive – but we chose these as the ones that you will encounter the most when you create presentation slides.

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