Decoding the Color Code


What do you think is common in all these images except that the world loves them?

The colors.
Red, blue and yellow. These constitute the RYB color model. Other color models are the Additive RGB color model and the Subtractive CMYK color model.

According to artists’ color wheel, the three primary colors are Red, Blue and Yellow. The reason is that these cannot be created by mixing any other colors while all other colors can be created with just Red, Yellow and Blue (with the exception of white and black i.e. only in painting. According to science, absence of all colors make black and presence of all colors make white but when we talk in terms of mixing paints we may get something like grey but will never achieve black.)

The human eye consists of photoreceptor cells in the retina. One type of these are cones which are responsible for color vision. Further, cones are of three types: those detecting red light, blue light and green light. Mixing red and green light confuses the eye to perceive the color as yellow. That is how we can envision all the colors. This how the human eye and everything related to light works. This is the additive model.

For painting and printing, the pigment model of colors is followed i.e. subtraction of colors with primary colors Cyan, Yellow and Magenta. These follow some color combination equations:

Thus, the primary colors for light are Red, Green and Blue while those for pigments are Cyan, Yellow and Magenta.
Because Red, Yellow and Blue are very very close to Magenta, Yellow and Cyan, artists must have taken RYB to be primary colors but that is not according to science.

Why do certain colors look good together?


Probably you’ll go with the second option i.e Orange+Red and Blue+Green look better than Orange+Green. There are certain reasons why we like some colors better together. This is called color harmony.  This is something psychological and the brain is wired to see certain combinations as boring and chaotic while others to be aesthetically pleasing to the eye. It is actually not pleasing to the eye but to the brain.

For most combinations click here.
In conclusion, everything we see is wired in our brains and eyes and nothing is random.

Fun Fact: It is impossible to imagine a new color. That is because it would mean an entirely new “primary” color and thus the interactions of other colors with it. This is unless you somehow genetically modify yourself and look in infrared and ultraviolet regions.

Freaky fact: There is a chance that your Red and my Red are different colors but we have lived ours lives believing a certain color to be Red. Maybe for me, Hulk is your pink.


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