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The primary colours (was Re: YAEPT: "year" (sorry!) (was Re: Why "y" ain't arbitrary (was: Intergermansk - Traveller's Phrasebook)))

From:Paul Bennett <paul-bennett@...>
Date:Monday, February 7, 2005, 3:30
On Sun, 06 Feb 2005 16:45:37 -0800, Gary Shannon <fiziwig@...> wrote:

> Anyway, artists call the three primary colors red, > yellow, and blue while physicists (and computers) use > the primary colors red, green and blue and printers > will tell you that the primary colors are cyan, > magenta, and yellow. So what ARE the primary colors?
The three additive primary colours are red, green and blue -- that is, these are the primary colors of light, they correspond notionally to three specific wavelengths of light. The three subtractive primary colours are cyan, magenta, and yellow -- these are the primary colours of pigment, they correspond notionally to the absence of reflectivity at those same three frequencies. Cyan and magenta are easiest to explain to persons without a background in colour technology as blue and red respectively, and indeed subtractive cyan and magenta do look quite blue and red absent context -- have you ever looked at any amount of pure inkjet printer ink? This is where the common confusion begins. It's not a case of the physicists' and the artists' primary colors having two elements the same, and one different, but rather of their having confusingly identical names for two pairs of actually quite different colours. Paul