Colour space

A colour space refers to a method used to organize the relationship between a range of colours in a recognisable and reproducible way.

  • Colour spaces are part of colour management, particularly when working with colour in a digital environment.
  • A colour space aims to accurately define the relationship between any selected colour and how it will be perceived by the human eye when it is reproduced by a digital display, printer or paint mixing machine.
  • A colour profile is a digital file that allows a piece of equipment to know how to reproduce the colour information it receives and to accurately reproduce the range of colours in an image.
  • The Pantone colour collection defines its colour space by:
    • Establishing a set of inter-related colour swatches
    • Giving each swatch a name or code
    • Calibrating a paint machine (or other types of equipment) to accurately reproduce the colour of each swatch.
    Visual artist
    • When an artist chooses a limited number of oil paints to add to their palette they establish a colour space within which they plan to work.
    • Digital colour spaces are used to define the range (gamut) of colours to be output to digital screens and printers.
    • When a colour space is to be matched with a specific device such as a projector or printer, a colour profile is used to ensure end-to-end color management.
    • A colour profile is a program that allows a piece of equipment to know how to handle and process the information it receives so that it can produce the intended colour output.
    Examples of digital colour spaces


About the Adobe RGB colour space
  • The Adobe RGB (1998) colour space is designed to encompass the colours that can be output by CMYK colour printers.
  • When the RGB colours model is used on a modern computer screen, the Adobe RGB (1998) colour space encompasses roughly 50% of the range of colours seen by an observer.
  • The Adobe RGB (1998) colour space improves on the gamut of the sRGB colour space, primarily in cyan-green hues.