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Chapter 3. Changing and Adjusting Colors > About Computers and Color Models

About Computers and Color Models

No matter how your images got into the computer, whether from a scanner or a digital camera or copied from a stock art CD-ROM, the version of the image stored in the computer can only approximate the colors of the original scene. A computer, at its core, is only capable of dealing with numbers, so it somehow has to come up with numerical equivalents of the colors perceived by our eyes.

How does your computer come up with a number to represent color? There are several ways to do this, called color models, and one of the most common is the RGB color model. In this model, the color of each pixel is described as combinations of different amounts of the colors red, green, and blue. These colors were chosen because the cells in our eyes that respond to color, the “cones,” come in three varieties; some are sensitive to red, some to green, and some to blue. Therefore, the RGB model tries to characterize colors in a way that’s similar to the way the human eye works.


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