Theory of Color | Color Theory | Additive Theory | Subtractive Theory

Theory of Color
Color theory is a body of practical guidance to color mixing and the visual impacts of specific color combinations

Two Types of Color (Based on Application)

  • Electronic Color
  • Pigment-Based Color
Theory of color
Electronic Color
Electronic color is used in video cameras and displayed on television and computer screens through the use of cathode-ray tubes (CRT). Color monitors use three different types of phosphors that appear red, green, and blue when activated. These phosphors are placed close together, and when combined in differing intensities can produce any color.

Pigment-based Color
Pigment-based color is used in color printers, color filters, and color paints. Color printers use cyan, magenta, and yellow pigments. These pigments when combined in differing intensities can produce any color.

Theories of Color 
  1. Additive Theory (Based on Electronic Color)
  2. Subtractive Theory (Based on Pigment Color)
Additive Theory  
  • The Additive, or light theory deals with radiated and filtered light.
  • Additive Theory
  • Black radiates no light
  • White (sun) radiates all light
  • Video is the process of capturing and radiating light, therefore it uses Additive (Light) theory not Subtractive (Pigment) theory.
The primary colors in Additive theory are:

–Red ( R )
–Green ( G )
–Blue ( B )

  • The primary colors add together to make white
  • Light Theory is also called Additive Theory.
  • Light Theory is used in Television, theater lighting, computer monitors, and video production.
Subtractive Theory 
  • The subtractive, or pigment theory deals with how white light is absorbed and reflected off of colored surfaces. A subtractive color model explains the mixing of paints, dyes, inks, and natural colorants to create a full range of colors, each caused by subtracting (that is, absorbing) some wavelengths of light and reflecting the others.
  • Black absorbs most light
  • White reflects most light
  • Colored Pigments absorb light and reflect only the frequency of the pigment color.
  • All colors other than the pigment colors are absorbed so this is called subtractive color theory. 
  • Subtractive or Pigment Theory is used in printing and painting. 
The primary colors in Subtractive Theory are:
–Cyan ( C )
–Magenta ( M )
–Yellow ( Y )
–Black ( K )


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