Chromaticity diagram


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Chromaticity diagram

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About the diagram


Some key terms

  • The CIE 1931 XYZ colour space (also known as CIE 1931 colour space) was one of the first mathematically defined colour spaces and was adopted by the International Commission on Illumination (CIE) as its standard method.
  • The CIE XYZ colour space was the first comprehensive method for systematizing the relationship between colour stimuli and human colour perception.
  • In an experimental situation, the CIE XYZ colour space can match any colour an observer sees with a known mixture of wavelengths of light.
  • The foundation of the CIE XYZ colour space is the ability to identify the precise mixture of wavelengths of light needed to stimulate cone cells to produce any colour experience within the visible spectrum.
  • Viewed diagrammatically the CIE XYZ colour space takes the form of a graph showing a volume of colour corresponding with every wavelength in the visible spectrum. The location of every colour is determined in relation to the x and y axes of the graph. The two axes are used to identify the coordinates for each colour within this two-dimensional vector space.
  • The coordinates themselves are derived from tristimulus colour values.
  • With the development of the CIE XYZ colour space, trichromatic colour models and their corresponding colour spaces provide methods for anticipating and managing colour reproduction in every applicable field and type of technology.
  • In terms of colour management, the trichromatic colour theory underpins device-independent additive colour spaces such as the sRGB colour space and the Adobe RGB colour space and device-dependent additive colour models such as RGB, HSB and CMYK and their corresponding colour spaces.
  • A colour space frames the range of colours that an artist, designer or technician has available to work with.
  • A colour space may aim to restrict the number of colours or establish the widest possible gamut to work with.
  • A colour space is partly predetermined by factors such as the colour theory and the colour model underpinning a workflow.
  • Colour spaces are an important part of colour management and are particularly useful when working with a range of equipment across a digital environment.
  • Digital colour spaces are commonly used to select and work with a range of colours that can be displayed and output to digital screens and printers in a consistent or predictable way.
  • When a selected colour space is to be matched with a specific digital device such as a projector or printer, the type and model can be specified during the editing process.
  • When the future handling of an image is uncertain, colour profiles dedicated to sRGB or Adobe RGB can be added to a digital file to ensure accurate colour reproduction.
  • A colour profile is a program that allows a piece of equipment such as a digital printer to know how to handle and process the colour information it receives so that it produces the intended colour output.
  • The general purpose of a colour space is to determine the range of colours available within a specific workflow and may be determined by a user or programmatically.
  • The Adobe RGB (1998) colour space aims to ensure the optimal range of colours available within the RGB colour model are accurately reproduced when output to digital displays or printers.
  • In a digital environment, the aim is to ensure that a selected range of colours appears consistent throughout a workflow and that the desired range of colours is successfully reproduced at the end of the process.
  • A chromaticity diagram is a two-dimensional visual depiction of all the colours produced by mixing specific primary colours in a particular colour model.
  • This means it shows the range of colours achievable by combining red, green, and blue light in varying proportions, not all possible colours imaginable. Some chromaticity diagrams may include colours that are technically visible under specific conditions (e.g., high intensity) but are not typically seen by humans under normal viewing conditions.
  • The two axes in a chromaticity diagram, typically labelled x and y, represent the proportions of red, green, and blue light needed to produce a specific colour within the model’s gamut.
  • The most common diagrams, like the CIE 1931 xy diagram, display the entire range of hues (at varying levels of saturation) that a human observer can perceive under ideal conditions.
  • The scale on each axis of chromaticity diagrams used for technical purposes aligns with the range of colour values (chromaticity coordinates) described by the CIE (1931) XYZ colour space. This enables them to accurately depict colour spaces in a manner consistent with a comprehensive and internationally recognized chromaticity coordinate system.
  • Some chromaticity diagrams show the smaller range of other colour spaces so that the range of colours that can be reproduced by equipment such as cameras, digital screens and printers can be compared.

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