Online Color Mixing Tool for Designers/ Artists

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Click on the colors to add to mixing palette.

Color Mixing Palette
   Hex Code:#ffffff

Color Proportion:
Red (0) + Yellow (0) + Blue  (0)
Primary Colors
Secondary Colors
Hexdecimal Legend for Primary Colors:
  • Red: #ff0000
  • Yellow: #ffff00
  • Blue: #0000ff

Did you know?

There is a major difference between mixing of paints (CYMK) and the mixing of lights(RGB). The results are not the same. For example, mixing red and green dyes yields brown color. However, mixing red and green light yields yellow, not brown!

Want to know more ? read this

I. Systems of Mixing Colors

There are two systems of mixing colors.

a) CYMK:  Mixing of colorants (dyes, paints etc – as in any print design).

b)RGB:  Mixing of illumination (lights as in television, computer screen etc).

Colors emitting from lights are called additive colors. This is because the colors Red, Green and Blue add up to form white color.

CYMK colors are called subtractive colors because combining Cyan Yellow and magenta removes all color to yield black (which is actually not a color but the absence of color).

II) RGB or RYB or CYMK?

When colors are used in context of colors emitting from light sources – red, green and blue are taken as primary colors. This is the RGB system of classification.

When colors are referred in context of dyes, paints, pigments or in context of color of objects (not light sources) cyan, yellow and magenta are referred to as primary colors. Color classification using these three primary colors is called CYMK (where the letter ‘k’ denotes ‘key’ or the color ‘black’.

The use of RYB (red–yellow–blue) instead of RGB (as in the mixing tool above) has more of a historical reason. Artists since the medieval periods have mostly used yellow instead of green for mixing their colors. This tradition carried forward which eventually became the normal convention in color mixing.

III) Why have different systems of color classifications?

The reason for this difference in color mixing lies in how we see different objects. The way our brain sees and interprets a colored object like a fruit for instance is different from the way it interprets color from a light source like the television.

When we see an object we are actually seeing the light reflected from the body of the object. In contrast ,when we watch the television or the computer screen or the light bulb we see undiluted, unadulterated colors as directly emitted from the light source into our eyes.

We need to accommodate for both these varieties of color experiences and hence the two systems.

While the primary colors for RGB & CYMK colors differ – they are very closely related. Cyan is actually a hue variant of blue. Similarly yellow is also a close variant of the yellow derived from the RGB color system. Magenta is also closely related to red.

IV) Primary colors: not really primary?

Technically speaking, ‘Primary colors’ are colors that cannot be made by mixing two other colors. Alternatively the primary colors are the
colors from which all other colors can be derived.By this definition – none of the colors are primary colors.

In fact, most of the so called primary color can be made out of other colors. For example, red can be formed by mixing yellow with magenta, green can be formed by mixing cyan with yellow and blue can be obtained by mixing magenta with cyan (Want to try it in the color mixing  tool ?).

Any selection of primary colors is in actual fact arbitrary and is more of a conventional acceptance of prevailing practices.
In fact science has proved that it is impossible to reproduce the entire range of colors with any set of colors. A set of colors can at best produce only a small subset of colors which is referred to as the gamut.

V) Which one for me: RGB or CYMK?

The short answer: use CYMK if the end output can be touched and felt. Use RGB if the end output can only be seen as light illumination.

Of all the three primary color classification – the CYMK color is known to produce the widest range of colors. Look at your printer cartridge – you will find that it derives all its colors from CYM colors. In fact all dyes, inks and pigments are made from CYM colors. When graphic designers design anything for a physical print, they do so in the CYMK mode.

The pixels in your computer screen, the show lights on a performance stage are all derived from light and hence they use the red, green and blue colors to derive all other colors. When graphic designers design for a TV show banners for websites – they do so with RGB colors.

VI) What difference would it make, if I chose one over the other?

Why bother with one over the other? What difference does it make if I ignore it all ?
There is a major difference between mixing of paints (CYMK) and the mixing of lights(RGB). The results are not the same. For example, mixing red and green pigments (CYMK) yields brown color. However, mixing red and green light yields yellow, not brown!

Not knowing the difference can result in mixing blunders.

VII) What are Secondary & Tertiary colors?

The colors green, orange, and violet are the three secondary colors – in that they are formed by mixing two primary colors.

The tertiary colors are formed by mixing one primary color and one secondary color. Accordingly there are 6 tertiary colors:

i)                  Red + orange

ii)                 Red + violet

iii)                Yellow + green

iv)                 Yellow +orange

v)                  Blue + green

vi)                 Blue + violet

Mixing red + green, yellow + violet or blue + orange yields black color and hence they are not classified as tertiary colors.