Colour spaces & examples

About colour spaces & examples
  • A colour space aims to accurately define the relationship between any selected colour within a colour model and how it will appear when it is reproduced by a specific device such as a digital display, printer or paint mixing machine.
  • When an artist selects a limited number of tubes of oil paint to add to a palette, they are already working within the RYB subtractive colour model and establishing the colour space in which they plan to work.
  • A colour space may aim to limit the number of colours or establish the widest possible gamut of reproducible colours.
  • Digital colour spaces are commonly used to accurately set the range of colours that can be output to and then displayed by digital screens and printers.
  • When a colour space is to be matched with a specific digital device such as a projector or printer, a colour profile is loaded along with the image file to ensure accurate colour reproduction.
  • A colour profile is a program that enables a piece of equipment, such as a digital printer, to know how to handle and process the information it receives, ensuring it can produce the intended colour output accurately.

Examples of colour spaces include:

RGB (Red, Green, Blue) Color Space
CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key/Black) Color Space
  • CMYK is a subtractive colour model used in printing and design. It defines colours by subtracting varying amounts of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black ink from a white paper background. CMYK is used to achieve a wide range of colours on printed materials.
RYB (Red, Yellow, Blue) Color Space
  • RYB is an older subtractive colour model primarily used in traditional art and paint mixing. It consists of three primary colours: red, yellow, and blue. Mixing these colours creates secondary colours, such as orange, green, and violet. RYB is not used in modern digital design.
LAB Color Space
  • LAB is a device-independent colour space that represents colours in a way that is closer to human perception. It separates colour information into three channels: L (lightness), A (green to red), and B (blue to yellow). LAB is used in colour management and as an intermediate space when converting between different colour models.
HSB/HSV (Hue, Saturation, Brightness/Value) Color Space
  • HSB/HSV is a cylindrical colour model that represents colours based on three parameters: hue (the type of colour), saturation (the purity of the colour), and brightness/value (the intensity of the colour). It is often used in computer graphics and design software.
XYZ Color Space
  • XYZ is a CIE (Commission Internationale de l’Eclairage) standardized colour space that serves as a reference for defining other colour spaces. It is based on human vision and designed to be perceptually uniform. XYZ is used in various colour-related calculations and conversions.
Pantone Color Space
    • The Pantone colour system is widely used in the printing and design industries. It provides a standardized set of colours represented by specific codes. Each colour swatch is carefully defined to ensure consistency in printing and reproducing colours accurately.

Colour theories, models, spaces and management systems

About colour theories, models, spaces and management systems

Colour theory, colour models, colour spaces, and colour management systems are integral to understanding, representing, and manipulating colour in various fields.

Colour Theory
  • A colour theory is a set of principles and concepts used to understand how colour works, how colours relate to each other, and how they are perceived or interpreted by the human eye. A colour theory allows us to predict in advance how colour behaves in practice.
Colour Model
  • A colour model is a practical application of colour theory. In both industrial and design contexts a colour model is and mathematical representation or system for creating a full range of colours using a set of primary colours. Examples include the RGB (Red, Green, Blue) model for light-based colours and the CMY (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow) model for pigment-based colours. The choice of a colour model depends on the medium (light, paint, ink, etc.) and the application (canvas, monitor, printer, etc.).
Colour Space
  • A colour space is a specific organization of colours derived from a colour model. It can be used to define a gamut or subset of colours that can then be successfully applied within a particular context or for a specific purpose. Examples of colour spaces used in digital design include sRGB and Adobe RGB within the RGB model, each of which encompasses a different range of colours.
Colour Management System
  • These are systems or protocols designed to ensure consistent and accurate colour reproduction across different devices, media, and lighting conditions. They consider the specifications of the devices used to capture, edit, or display colour, as well as the lighting conditions in which colours are viewed.

In summary, a colour theory provides the underlying concepts, a colour model provides a framework to represent these concepts, a colour space defines a specific range of colours that can be generated within the parameters of the model, and a colour management system ensures consistency and accuracy in reproducing colours across different contexts and devices.