This is the first of a series of posts that I will be writing to discuss color, color work-flows, and what you need to do in order to get the most out of the publications that you submit to us.
Before you can get into the understanding of color work-flows, you must have an understanding of how color works. There are two types of color: additive color and subtractive color.
We will start with additive color as it is what you are seeing right now. Additive color is color that is projected. Whether you are looking at color on a television, on a computer screen, or looking straight into the beam of a flashlight, you are looking at additive color.
Additive color consists of 3 colors. These colors are red, green, and blue. On their own, you can probably guess the color that they create, all together they create white light. A good example of a additive color source is an LCD screen. These are used for both computers and televisions. Chances are good that you are taring at one right now. There are plenty of websites like this one (click here to open it in a new window) that explain the method that they use, but essentially an additive color device mixes red, green, and blue together and shoots the color into your eyes where your brain constructs an image. When you are designing something in the RGB color space, you can specify these RGB values from 0-255.
Subtractive color consists of 4 colors. These colors are Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. This is the color that is used in non-projected things like what you would find in nature. This is the process used in printing. Subtractive color is based on the principal that all color combines to create white light. The sun happens to create this white light. Artificial light sources (light bulbs) also attempt to reproduce this light. The way that colors are created is that this white light is projected from the sun (or reflected off of something, or artificially reproduced). When the light hits an object, the object will absorb all of the color except for the color that that object is. The reflected color is what your eye sees and what we perceive to be the color of that object. The funny thing is that the object in question is every color except for that which you see.