About colour theory
Colour theories underpin colour management by seeking to explain how human beings perceive colour and establish the rational basis for practical how-to methods for managing colour in different situations.
A system of colour management may be associated with:
Colour theory and human perception
The aspect of colour theory concerned with the human perception of colour aims to answer questions about:
- How our eyes register colour when exposed to light.
- The way our eyes and brains work together to produce the complex colour perceptions that make up the visible world.
- The part of the electromagnetic spectrum that is related to colour and how our eyes respond to different wavelengths of light.
- The fact that red, green and blue lights combined in different proportions can produce the impression of all the colours of the visible spectrum.
- The way colours appear in different situations such as in low or bright light and under artificial lighting.
- Human responses to different combinations of colour such as analogous, complementary and contrasting colours.
- The differences between the scientific, technical and creative understandings and descriptions of colour.
- Understanding the differences between:
- The way our eyes see colour
- Light and colour in the world around us
- The colour of opaque objects and surfaces
- The colour of transparent media
- Colour on TVs, computers and phone screens
- Colour in printed images
Colour theory and colour management
The aspect of colour theory concerned with how-to methods for managing colour in different situations aims to answer questions about:
- The differences between mixing coloured lights, pigment or inks.
- Mixing and managing ranges (gamuts) of colours in logical, predictable and repeatable ways.
- Identifying and mixing particular colours in predictable and repeatable ways.
- Specifying colours using names, codes, notation, equations etc.
- The difference between additive and subtractive colour mixing.
- Systems and rules for mixing different and applying them to different materials such as fabrics, interiors and vehicles.
- Creating colour palettes, gamuts and colour guides.
- Managing the consistent reproduction of digital colour from start to finish.
Where to find colour theories
- Trichromatic colour theory
- Opponent colour theory
- Neurological research
- Subtractive and additive theories of colour
- The Munsell colour system
- LAB colour model
- Spectral colour model
- RGB colour model
- HSB colour model
- CMY colour model
- Pantone Matching System (PMS) is a standardised system for the colour printing industry.
- RAL classic colour system is used mainly for powder coating, varnish, and plastic colouring.