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Color Models

Shubhangi Shinde
• Light is electromagnetic wave and has wave
• One of these properties is frequency(v). The
frequency describes how many cycles the
wave occur every second.
• Wavelength(I) the distance in space between
crests of the wave.
• It’s all electromagnetic (EM) radiation
– Different colors correspond to radiation of different
– Intensity of each wavelength specified by amplitude
• Frequency = 2 pi/wavelength
• We perceive EM radiation with in the 400-700 nm
range, the tiny piece of spectrum between infra-
red and ultraviolet
• Our eyes give the greatest response to green. We
are less sensitive to red and blue light and cannot
see infrared or ultraviolet light at all.
Visible Light
Color and Wavelength
Most light we see is not just a single wavelength, but a combination of many
wavelengths like below. This profile is often referred to as a spectrum, or
spectral power distribution.
Physical properties of light
White light consists of a
spectrum of all visible
Physical properties of light
All kinds of light can be
described by the
energy of each
The distribution showing
the relation between
energy and
wavelength (or
frequency) is called
energy spectrum
Physical properties of light
This distribution may indicate:
1) The combination of frequencies of the reflected light is
called dominant frequency. A dominant wavelength (or
frequency) which is the color of the light (hue), cp. E
2) brightness (luminance), intensity of the light (value), cp.
the area A
3) purity (saturation), cp. E
– E
W: Describes
the degree of
vividness. E.g. Two red lights may differ in luminance and
they may differ in degree of vividness (e.g.
Pure/saturated red vs pole/unsaturated red)

Saturation = pure color/pure color+ white color

The higher the luminance, the brighter the light to the observer.

• Light with equal amount of all wavelengths
present looks white to us.
• The more white light, the less saturated is the
color. The total amount of light determines its
shade or intensity.
• Emitted light : emitted by the active light sources
such as sun, light bulb, computer monitor and
other self-illuminating bodies
• Reflected light: The light bounced off by objects,
that don’t actively emit light, is called reflected
Color definitions
Complementary colors - two colors combine to
produce white light
Primary colors - (two or) three colors used for
describing other colors
Two main principles for mixing colors:
• additive mixing
• subtractive mixing
Additive mixing
• Obtained by adding together lights of different colors.
• Absence of all colors is black while the presence of all colors is
white. Works with emitted light
• pure colors are put close to each other => a mix on the retina
of the human eye (cp. RGB)
• overlapping gives yellow, cyan, magenta and white
• the typical technique on color displays
Subtractive mixing
• Obtained by subtracting lights of different colors.
Absence of all colors is white while presence of all colors
is black. Works with reflected light.
• color pigments are mixed directly in some liquid, e.g. ink
• each color in the mixture absorbs its specific part of the
incident light
• the color of the mixture is determined by subtraction of
colored light, e.g. yellow absorbs blue => only red and
green, i.e. yellow, will reach the eye (yellow because of
Subtractive mixing,cont’d
• primary colors: cyan, magenta and yellow, i.e.
• the typical technique in printers/plotters
• connection between additive and subtractive
primary colors (cp. the color models RGB and
Additive/subtractive mixing
Color representation
• Palette : An indexed array ususally with 256
entries, each three bytes log, representing
amount of R,G,B to be used to represent the
color at the pixel in question.
• Hi-color: Uses 16 bits to represent colors thus
allowing 64 k colors to be displayed
• True-color: Million of colors uses 25 bits
(3bytes) to represent colors allowing
256*256*256 colors to be displayed.
Color concepts
• Shades: Adding a pigment of black color to
some other color proudces a darker shade.
• Tints: Obtained by adding a white pigment to
the original color making it lighter.
• Tones: They are produced by adding both
black and white color pigments.
Chromatic and Achromatic Light
• AChromatic Light: two-color combination of
black and white. Attributes are quantity that is
intensity, luminance and brightness.
• Chromatic light: colored light and their
combinations, which produce visual sensation.
Attributes are hue, a self-luminous light
source, such as light bulb, sun etc.

Human color seeing
The retina of the human eye consists of cones (7-
8M),”tappar”, and rods (100-120M), ”stavar”,
which are connected with nerve fibres to the
Human color seeing,cont’d
Theory: the cones consist of various light absorbing
The light sensitivity of the cones and rods varies with
the wavelength, and between persons
The ”sum” of
• the energy spectrum of the light
• the reflection spectrum of the object
• the response spectrum of the eye
decides the color perception for a person
Overview of color models
The human eye can perceive about 382000(!) different
Necessary with some kind of classification sys-tem; all
using three coordinates as a basis:
1) CIE standard
2) RGB color model
3) CMY color model (also, CMYK)
4) HSV color model
5) HLS color model
CIE standard
Commission Internationale
de L’Eclairage (1931)
• not a computer model
• each color = a weighted
sum of three imaginary
primary colors.
• Human perception
based standard (1931),
established with color
matching experiment
• Standard observer: a
composite of a group of
15 to 20 people

CIE Experiment
CIE Experiment Result
• Three pure light
source: R = 700
nm, G = 546 nm,
B = 436 nm.
CIE xyY Space
• Irregular 3D volume shape is
difficult to understand
• Chromaticity diagram (the same
color of the varying intensity, Y,
should all end up at the same

• Standard primary color established by CIE
don’t corresspond to real colors they are
imaginary colors.
• If A,B,C are three virtual colors then its
components with respect to primaries is
calculated as
• X=A/(A+B+C)
• Y=B/(A+B+C)
• Z=C/(A+B+C)

CIE Color Space
Color Gamut
• The range of color
representation of
a display device
RGB model
• all colors are
generated from the
three primaries
• various colors are
obtained by changing
the amount of each
• additive mixing (r,g,b),
RGB model,cont’d
• the RGB cube
• 1 bit/primary => 8 colors, 8 bits/primary => 16M colors
RGB Color Model
• Primary colors are red, green, and blue.
• Used for active displays such as TV and
computer screens.
• Vertices of the cube on the axes represent the
primary colors i.e. red, green and blue and
remaining vertices represent the
complementary color for each of the primary
• Primary color intensities are added to produce
other color.
• Each color point within the cube bound can be
represented on triple(R,G,B) where values are
assigned within the range from 0 to 1.
• E.g. magenta by adding red and blue and cyan by
adding green and blue.
• The vertex representing magenta produces the
triplet(1,0,1) and white at (1,1,1) is the sum of
red, green and blue vertices.
CMY model
• cyan, magenta and
yellow are comple-
mentary colors of
red,green and blue,
• subtractive mixing
• the typical printer

CMY Model
• Subtractive model.
• Cyan, magenta and yellow are primary colors
and red, green and blue are secondary colors.
• Useful for describing color output to hard
copy devices.
• Hard copy devices produce a color picture by
coating a paper with color pigments.
CMY model,cont’d
• almost the same cube as
with RGB; only black<->
• the various colors are
obtained by reducing
light, e.g. if red is
absorbed => green and
blue are added, i.e cyan
• Cube diagonal
representing gray
combination of cyan and
magenta producing blue
RGB Vs CMY Color Model
RGB Color Model
• Additive color model
• For computer displays
• Uses light to dislay color
• Colors result from
transmitted light
• Red+Green+blue=White
CMY Color Model
• Subtractive color model
• For printed material
• Uses ink to display color
• Colors result from reflected
• Cyan+Magenta+Yellow=Black
• Converting between RGB and CMY
CMYK model
For printing and graphics art industry, CMY is
not enough; a fourth primary, K which stands
for black, is added.
Subtractive color model used in color printing,
also used to describe the printing process
Conversions between RGB and CMYK are
possible, although they require some extra
• CMYK works by partially or entirely masking
certain colors on typically white background( that
is absorbing particular wavelengths of lights)
• White is the natural color of the paper or other
background, while black results from a full
combination of colord inks.
• To save money on ink, and to produce deeper
black tons, unsaturated and dark colors are
produced by substituting black ink for the
combination of cyan, magenta and yellow.
Why black ink is used?
1. Text is black & include fine details so to reproduce text or
other finely detailed outlines using 3 inks without slight
blurring would require impractically accurate registration.
2. A combination of 100% cyan, magenta and yellow inks
soaks the paper with ink making it slower to dry and
sometimes impractically so.
3. A combination of 100% cyan, magenta and yellow inks
often results in a muddy dark brown color that does not
quite appear black. Adding black ink absorbs mare light,
and yields much darker blacks
4. Using black ink is less expensive than using the
corresponding amounts of colored inks.
HSV Color Model(Hue, saturation and
• User specifies a color and amount of white
and black to add to the color to obtain
different shades, tones and tints.
HSV model
• HSV stands for Hue-Saturation-Value
• described by a hexcone derived from the RGB
HSV model,cont’d
• 3D representation of
HSV model is derived
from RGB mode cube
• Hue (0-360°); ”the
color”, cp. the dominant
wave-length (128)
• Saturation (0-1); ”the
amount of white” (130)
• Value (0-1); ”the
amount of black” (23)
• Hue is given by the angle about the vertical
axis with red at 0:, yellow at 60: green at 120:
cyan at 180:, blue at 120: and magenta at
• Complementary colors are 180: apart.
• To choose a color we do following:
– Select pure hue(Specifies H and sets S=V=1). To
add black decrease V and/or add white decrease S
• E.g.
• Puregreen H =120: S=V=1
• Darkgreen H =120: S=1 V=0.40
• Lightgreen H =120: S=0.3 V=1.0
HSV model,cont’d
Human eye can distinguish between 128 hues, 130 tints and
23 shades.
The numbers given after each ”primary” are estimates of
how many levels a human being is capable to distinguish
between, which (in theory) gives the total number of
color nuances:
128*130*23 = 382720
In Computer Graphics, usually enough with:
128*8*15 = 16384
For such setting 14 bit color storage per pixel is enough for
a system to run an application using HSV color available
to a user.
HLS model
Another model similar to
L stands for Lightness
YIQ color model
• Used in US commercial TV and closely related to color
raster graphics.
• It is recording of RGB fro transimission efficiency and for
downward compatibility with black and white tv.
• Recorded signal is transmitted using National Television
System Committee(NTSC)
• Parameter Y is same as in XYZ model.
• Luminance=Y, chromaticity(hue and purity)= I & Q
• Y parameter consist of RGB intensities so black and white
TV use only Y signal.(MHz)
• Paprameter I contains orange-cyan information(1.5 MHz)
• Parameter Q carrier green-magenta hue information in a
bandwidth of about 0.6 MHz

Conversion between color models



• Process of printing continuous tone images in
newspaper, magazines and books using a bi-level
• One cannot print shades of gray using only black in
printing press.
• It creates a dot pattern by exposing negative through
fine screen(halftone screen) onto a photosensitive
printing plate.
• The size of dots varies depending on the fineness of
the screen and length of exposure, where image is light
the dots are small and where the image is dark and
dots are large.
• The dots fuse together both on paper and in our
eye to give a convincing illusion of continuous
tones. Such printed images made up of a series of
varying size and varying density dots in a specific
pattern to simulate the look of continuous tones
are commonly known as halftones.
• Color halftones are actually made up of series of
dots in cyan, magenta yellow and black that fools
the eye into seeing the millions of colors that
make up the original image.