A Brief Overview on Color Theory (CMYK and RGB)

Color theory is a process by which creativity and science mesh together. It’s an important thing to understand for good design, and something that will dictate how a finished object can look.

The colors that make up the prime three are:
Red or Magenta.
Cyan (a shade of blue)
Yellow. Prime is equal to 3.

Primary Colors: RGB. Painting and Web based projects should be worked on in this format.
Red, Yellow, (Royal) Blue.
These usually use are considered “additive” based colors, as you can mix them together to create another color, and relies on how light reflects through them.
According to Pantone:

“The visible color spectrum, what we know as the rainbow (RGBIV), encompasses light wavelengths from approximately 380 to 720 nanometers and breaks down into three primary colors: red, green, and blue. We can mix these three colors in various combinations to create millions of beautiful colors. When we mix them in equal quantities, we perceive the color as white. “

Pantone Color IQ

Design Primary Colors: For printing. CMYK uses a subtractive method.
Cyan
Magenta (Or Circadian red)
Yellow
Black.
This format is more or less meant to be used for printing processes, but you can also use it for traditional art forms if you so choose.

The depth of color theory is exhausted in the transition of light, and how electromagnetic waves move. In 1704, Issac Newton published the primary color theory through studying the wave lengths of light and how they reacted on prism surfaces. While his conclusion differed from Munsell’s mathematical results, neither have been discredited.

There has been discussion that Munsell’s theory can be expanded on into the realm of how light and dark play together. I question if it’s possible to develop a digital algorithm that could inherently help us understand light and art better?
We have:
Hue, Value, Brightness, Saturation, Darkness, and thus the opposite. “White” isn’t even a color, and the term we really should be using is “bright or dark”. This is where shades and value come into play.

Shades and Values:

Within hair alone, we use “levels” to demonstrate bright to dark. 0-Black. 10 to 12-White/Light/Silver.
If we are only able to see the colors up to a “level 10”, could there be further colors beyond our eyesight that we haven’t evolved to seeing? After all, dogs only see in shades of grey, cats and owls can see at night. Paper is used to demonstrate “Whiteness”, but if you look at all the varying levels of light, this can change from white-to off white, to appearing yellow or silver, based on hue, undertones, and the colors that we see around us.
*Tip, go to a salon with good light sources that use both artificial and day light (Windows). It’s the easiest way to find a color that should match your skin tone easier with your colorist!

If Isaac Newton used the musical notes as representation of ROY-G-BIV, could it be possible that a combination of translating the musical notes to math, would lead us down a new path of brilliance within understanding art and color theory? Munsell’s use of geometry seems to be a key clue in understanding this.

One of the ways we found color was through using prisms, a geometric shaped piece of glass or crystal and having light refract and shine through it. This allowed us to gain a better understanding into the wave-lengths of how color and light work together. But in the art world, if we already have access to all the colors, then how can we expand on it? How do we use it to benefit our own creations?

I will be posting a follow up piece on how to use color theory to your advantage as an artist so be sure to subscribe so you get email updates when I post something new. Let me know your thoughts, personally I find color theory absolutely fascinating.

Learn More Here: handprint.com

Learn more here: huevaluechroma.com


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