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The Two Types of Color

The two types of color are additive and subtractive. These two categories parallel another pair of categories you'll read about shortly—RGB and CMYK. The difference between the two is how white is created. They are also differentiated by how the color reaches the eye—directly or by reflection. Pure white light shining through a red filter can give a beautiful and brilliant color. That same white light reflecting off a wall painted red can also give a lovely and vibrant color. But how the eye perceives the two colors can be radically different, as is how the “red” is created.

Additive Color

Additive color gets its name because white is created by adding together the colors of the spectrum. White is the inclusion of all colors. A typical example of additive color is a stage with three spotlights, one each of red, green, and blue, as shown in Figure 12.1. Where the three lights overlap, you see white. Where two of the three overlap, you see cyan, magenta, or yellow. The combination, in varying proportions, of red, green, and blue can produce all the colors of the spectrum—up to a point. The absence of all three of the colors is black.


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