Additive Color Printing Knowledge
Additive Color

Color reproduction on the computer monitor (and on television) is achieved by combining Red, Green, and Blue light (RGB) in varying levels to produce a full color image. Red, green, and blue are the primary colors of white light and they cannot be produced by the combination of any other colors. When they are combined full strength, they will produce white light. The combining of red, blue and green colors is known as the "Additive Color Process", because when the colors of light are combined with one another, or added together, the result is an increase in light intensity. If none of the additive primaries are present, the color is perceived as black.

When two primary colors of light are combined, a secondary color is produced. The secondary colors of light are Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow (CMY). The secondary light colors are also the primary colors of the "Subtractive Color Process". The process of combining cyan, magenta and yellow colors is used to reproduce color for printed media.



When 100% red light, 100% green light, and 100% blue light are combined, the result will be white light.

The combination of 100% of any two primary colors of light will result in a secondary color. 100% green light and 100% blue light result in cyan; 100% blue light and 100% red light result in magenta; and 100% red light and 100% green light result in yellow.


Color Gamut

The color gamut refers to the range of colors that can be viewed, displayed, or printed. The items in the list below are arranged from the greatest to the least in terms of the range of colors that each is able to reproduce:

  1. Human Eye
  2. Photographic Film
  3. Television or Computer Monitor
  4. Digital Printing Equipment
  5. Offset Printing

Defining Color

The following are the properties that are used to define color:

  • Hue: is used to describe the name of a color such as red, orange, violet, or blue.
  • Value: describes the lightness or darkness of the color. Value is also known as tone, tone value, or lightness.
  • Saturation: describes the intensity of the color such as bright or dull. Saturation is also known as intensity or chroma. It is important to remember that a color that has a very intense or bright level of saturation may not necessarily be very light in value just as a very dull color may not necessarily be very dark in tone or value.


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