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Color Space

# Color Space

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05/02/2014

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Color space
A comparison of the chromaticities enclosed by some color spaces.Acolor modelis an abstract mathematical model describing the waycolorscan be represented astuplesof numbers, typically as three or four values or
color components
(e.g.RGBandCMYK are color models). However, a color model with no associated mapping function to anabsolute color spaceis a more or less arbitrary color system with noconnection to any globally understood system of color interpretation.Adding a certain mapping function between the color model and a certainreference color space results in a definite "footprint" within the referencecolor space. This "footprint" is known as agamut, and, in combinationwith the color model, defines a new
color space
. For example,AdobeRGBandsRGBare two differentabsolute color spaces, both based on the RGB model.In the most generic sense of the definition above, color spaces can bedefined without the use of a color model. These spaces, such asPantone,are in effect a given set of names or numbers which are defined by theexistence of a corresponding set of physical color swatches. This articlefocuses on the mathematical model concept.

Understanding the concept
A comparison of RGB and CMYK color models. This image demonstratesthe difference between how colors will look on a computer monitor (RGB)compared to how they will reproduce in a CMYK print process.A wide range of colors can be created by theprimary colorsof pigment(cyan(C),magenta(M),yellow(Y), andblack(K)). Those colors then define a specific color space. To create a three-dimensionalrepresentation of a color space, we can assign the amount of magentacolor to the representation's Xaxis, the amount of cyan to its Y axis, andthe amount of yellow to its Z axis. The resulting 3-D space provides aunique position for every possible color that can be created by combiningthose three pigments.However, this is not the only possible color space. For instance, whencolors are displayed on a computer monitor, they are usually defined inthe RGB (red,greenandblue) color space. This is another way of making nearly the same colors (limited by the reproduction medium, such as thephosphor (CRT) or filters and backlight (LCD)), and red, green and bluecan be considered as the X, Y and Z axes. Another way of making thesame colors is to use theirHue(X axis), theirSaturation(Y axis), and their brightnessValue (Z axis). This is called theHSV color space. Many color spaces can be represented as three-dimensional (X,Y,Z) values in thismanner, but some have more, or fewer dimensions, and some, such asPantone, cannot be represented in this way at all.
Notes
When formally defining a color space, the usual reference standard is theCIELABorCIEXYZcolor spaces, which were specifically designed to encompass all colors the average human can see.Since "color space" is a more specific term for a certain
combination
of acolor model plus a mapping function, the term "color space" tends to beused to also identify color models, since identifying a color space

automatically identifies the associated color model. Informally, the twoterms are often used interchangeably, though this is strictly incorrect. Forexample, although several specific color spaces are based on the RGBmodel, there is no such thing as
the
RGB color space.Since any color space defines colors as a function of the absolutereference frame, color spaces, along with device profiling, allowreproducible representations of color, in bothanalogueanddigital  representations.
Conversion
Color space conversion is the translation of the representation of a colorfrom one basis to another. This typically occurs in the context of converting an image that is represented in one color space to anothercolor space, the goal being to make the translated image look as similaras possible to the original.
Density
The RGB color model is implemented in different ways, depending on thecapabilities of the system used. By far the most common general-usedincarnation as of 2006 is the 24-bitimplementation, with 8 bits, or 256discrete levels of color perchannel. Any color space based on such a 24-bit RGB model is thus limited to a range of 256×256×256 ≈ 16.7 millioncolors. Some implementations use 16 bits per component for 48 bits total,resulting in the samegamutwith a larger number of distinct colors. This isespecially important when working with wide-gamut color spaces (wheremost of the more common colors are located relatively close together), orwhen a large number of digital filtering algorithms are used consecutively. The same principle applies for any color space based on the same colormodel, but implemented in differentbit depths.
Partial list of color spaces
CIE 1931 XYZ color spacewas one of the first attempts to produce a colorspace based on measurements of human color perception (earlier effortswere by James Clerk Maxwell, König & Dieterici, and Abney atImperial College)
and it is the basis for almost all other color spaces. Derivativesof the CIE XYZ space includeCIELUV,CIEUVW, andCIELAB.