Additive color

Additive color

An additive color model involves light emitted directly from a source or illuminant of some sort. The additive reproduction process usually uses red, green and blue light to produce the other colors. See also RGB color model. Combining one of these additive primary colors with another in equal amounts produces the additive secondary colors cyan, magenta, and yellow. Combining all three primary lights (colors) in equal intensities produces white. Varying the luminosity of each light (color) eventually reveals the full gamut of those three lights (colors). The most common use of additive light is the projected light used in theatrical lighting (plays, concerts, circus shows, night clubs, etc.). Computer monitors and televisions use a system called optical mixing and cannot be considered additive light because the colors do not overlap. The red green and blue pixels are side-by-side. When a green color appears, only the green pixels light up. When a cyan color appears, both green and blue pixels light up. When white appears all the pixels light up. Because the pixels are so small and close together our eyes blend them together, having a similar effect as additive light.

Results obtained when mixing additive colors are often counterintuitive for people accustomed to the more everyday subtractive color system of pigments, dyes, inks and other substances which present color to the eye by reflection rather than emission. For example, in subtractive color systems green is a combination of yellow and blue, in additive color, red + green = yellow and no simple combination will yield green. It should be noted that additive color is a result of the way the eye detects color, and is not a property of light. There is a vast difference between yellow light, with a wavelength of approximately 580 nm, and a mixture of red and green light. However, both stimulate our eyes in a similar manner, so we do not detect that difference. (see eye (cytology), color vision.)

James Clerk Maxwell is credited as being the father of additive color. [cite web | title = James Clerk Maxwell | url = | work = Inventor's Hall of Fame, Rochester Institute of Technology Center for Imaging Science] He had the photographer Thomas Sutton photograph a tartan ribbon three times, first with a red, then green, then blue color filter over the lens. The three images were developed and then projected onto a screen with three different projectors, each equipped with the corresponding red, green, or blue color filter used to take its image. When brought into register, the three images formed a full color image, thus demonstrating the principles of additive color. [cite book | title = Exploring Colour Photography: A Complete Guide | author = Robert Hirsch | publisher = Laurence King Publishing | year = 2004 | isbn = 1856694208 | url =,M1 ]

ee also

* Subtractive color
* Color film (motion picture)
* James Clerk Maxwell
* Kinemacolor
* Prizma Color
* William Friese-Greene
* Technicolor


External links

* [] - Photos and stories from the James Clerk Maxwell Foundation.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • additive color — Photog. red, green, or blue violet, as used in the additive process of color photography. Also called additive primary. [1905 10] * * * …   Universalium

  • additive color — Photog. red, green, or blue violet, as used in the additive process of color photography. Also called additive primary. [1905 10] …   Useful english dictionary

  • Additive color — Дополнительный цвет …   Краткий толковый словарь по полиграфии

  • additive color synthesis — adityvioji spalvų sintezė statusas T sritis radioelektronika atitikmenys: angl. additive color synthesis vok. additive Farbensynthese, f rus. аддитивный синтез цветов, m pranc. synthèse additive des couleurs, f …   Radioelektronikos terminų žodynas

  • additive color mixing — adityvusis spalvų maišymas statusas T sritis radioelektronika atitikmenys: angl. additive color mixing vok. additive Farbmischung, f rus. аддитивное смешение цветов, n pranc. mélange additif des couleurs, m …   Radioelektronikos terminų žodynas

  • additive color system — spalvų sudėties sistema statusas T sritis radioelektronika atitikmenys: angl. additive color system vok. additives Farbensystem, n rus. система сложения цветов, f pranc. système additif des couleurs, m …   Radioelektronikos terminų žodynas

  • Additive color filter — Фильтр аддитивных цветов …   Краткий толковый словарь по полиграфии

  • Color motion picture film — refers both to unexposed color photographic film in a format suitable for use in a motion picture camera, and to finished motion picture film, ready for use in a projector, which bears images in color. Contents 1 Overview 2 Tinting and hand… …   Wikipedia

  • Color photography — Color film redirects here. For the motion picture equivalent, see Color motion picture film. A circa 1850 Hillotype photograph of a colored engraving. Long believed to be a complete fraud, recent testing found that Levi Hill s process did… …   Wikipedia

  • Additive — may refer to:* Additive function, a function which preserves addition * Additive inverse, an arithmetic concept * Additive category, a preadditive category with finite biproducts * Additive rhythm, a larger period of time constructed from smaller …   Wikipedia

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