Colour theories discussed here at lightcolourvision.org include::
- CMY colour model
- Greyscale colour model
- HSB colour model
- Lab colour model
- RGB colour model
- Spectral colour model
- Trichromatic colour model
Other important references include:
- Munsell colour system – a standardized and perceptually uniform colour model that defines colours based on their hue, value (lightness), and chroma (colour purity).
- Pantone Colour Matching System (PMS) – a standardised system for the colour printing industry.
- RAL colour space system – used mainly for powder coating, varnish, and plastic colouring.
Colour theories underpin:
- Colour management
- Colour model/s
- Colour space/s
- Colour wheel/s, colour picker/s, colour swatches
- Colour profile/s for digital workspaces, monitors, printers etc.
Human perception of colour
The aspect of colour theory concerned with human perception 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 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
How-to methods for managing colour
The aspect of colour theory concerned with how-to methods for working with 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 media and applying them to fabrics, interiors and vehicles.
- Creating colour palettes, gamuts and colour guides.
- Managing the consistent reproduction of digital colour from start to finish.
Contributors to contemporary theories of colour
Some important contributors to contemporary theories of colour include:
- Leone Battista Alberti (c. 1435)
- Leonardo da Vinci (c. 1490)
- Isaac Newton: Opticks (1704)
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Theory of Colours (1810)
- Michel Eugène Chevreul: The Law of Simultaneous Color Contrast (1839)
- Charles Hayter: A New Practical Treatise on the Three Primitive Colours Assumed as a Perfect System of Rudimentary Information (1826)
- Ogden Rood: Modern Chromatics (1879)
- Albert Henry Munsell: Book of Colour (1915)
- Wilhelm Ostwald: Colour Atlas (1919)
- The Bauhaus: including Johannes Itten, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee and Joseph Albers (1919 – 1933)