Additive & subtractive colour models

About additive and subtractive colour models

There are two main types of colour models, additive and subtractive.

Additive Colour Models
Subtractive Colour Models
  • Subtractive colour models are used when working with pigments, inks and dyes.
  • The primary colours for most subtractive colour models are cyan, magenta, and yellow (CMY).
  • When combined cyan, magenta, and yellow produce black.
  • The subtractive CMY colour model and CMYK colour model are central to printing technologies.
  • In practice, the CMY colours often can’t produce a perfect black when mixed due to impurities in the pigments or inks, so a fourth ‘Key’ component (represented as K) is often used in printing to produce a true black.