Tip of the week: Color space basics - Dreamstime
Speaking simply, A color space is an organised range of colors that allows for reproduction in analog and digital medium. Color space is different from a Color model which is basically a mathematical model that represents color as mathematical values like triples in RGB and quadruple as in CMYK. Any function that can map a color model to a color space is called “Color Gamut”. CMYK, sRGB and adobe RGB are the more popular color spaces that we know of. Which color space you choose to work with, usually depends on what the end result is going to be.
For web applications, photos that are viewed on screens and displays, sRGB is the way to go. For prints, people usually stick to AdobeRGB and CMYK. CMYK being the more popular format with the offset industry. Then there are color palettes like Pantone etc. These are assigned color names or numbers that are expressed in tuples of numbers. Let’s take a look at different color spaces:
RGB Color spaces: RGB using color mixing technique based on additive algorithm. It is based on which lights from RGB channels should be mixed in what proportion to produce a specific color. There are many color spaces here like sRGB, AdobeRGB, Prophoto RGB, CIE RGB etc. RGBA has an additional alpha channel to control the alpha value. It is the most common color space that everyone uses daily on computers and their favourite image editor.
CMYK Color spaces: There are many color spaces based on CMYK. It is a subtractive technique. It describes which inks should be used (and in what quantity) to subtract from white color base of paper or canvas or even a white digital page. Although it is best not to use this primarily for displays. CMYK stores ink values of Cyan, Megenta, Yellow and Black hence the name. So this is a very common print industry color space. Offset press gets the ink value and volume calculation via CMYK.
HSL or Hue, saturation and luminance: HSL is another well known color space. It is essentially derived from RGB but uses the hue, saturation and luminance values in its index as they make sense artistically or how an artist will visualise colors.
YPbPr color space: This color space is used in analog videos. It is derived from a color system called YUV. while it’s version YCbCr is intended for digital video and used in videos and Mpeg/Jpeg compression.
Although we may not get a chance to work with more than 2-3 systems, it is always good to know the basics of color spaces. There are more color spaces like HSV, YIQ, RGC TSL etc that you can find on the internet if you want to know more. Do leave your kind comments and thanks for reading!