HSB colour model & saturation

About the HSB colour model and saturation

The HSB colour model is an additive colour model used to mix light. Subtractive colour models are used to mix pigments and inks.

  • The only difference between the RGB and HSB colour models is the way colours are represented in terms of colour notation and dealt with in software and apps.
  • Both the HSB and RGB colour models deal with how to mix red, green and blue light to produce other colours.
  • HSB is popular because it provides an intuitive way to select and adjust colours when using applications such as Adobe Creative Cloud for design, photography or web development.
  • The HSB colour model can be used to describe any colour on a TV, computer or phone.

In the HSB colour model:

  • Hue refers to the perceived difference between one colour and another and accounts for colour names such as red, yellow, green or blue.
    • Hue can be measured as a location on a colour wheel and expressed in degrees between 00 and 2590.
  • Saturation refers to the perceived difference between one colour and another in terms of purity.
    • Saturation is measured between a fully saturated colour (100%) and an unsaturated colour that appears dull and washed out until all colour disappears leaving only a monochromatic grey tone (0%).
    • A fully saturated colour is produced by a single wavelength or a narrow band of wavelengths of light.
    • On HSB colour wheels, saturation is usually shown to increase from the centre to the circumference.
  • Brightness (colour brightness) refers to the difference between a hue that appears bold and vivid at maximum brightness (100%) and then appears progressively darker in tone until it appears black at minimum brightness(0%).
  • Colour brightness is often apparent in the difference between the way a colour appears to an observer in well-lit conditions compared with its subdued appearance when in shadow or when poorly illuminated.