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What is RGB/Hexadecimal colours?

By Steffen Andersen · 10. June 2020

RGB colours are by far the most used colour process, and a colour process that you meet many times during your day, you see them every time you look at a screen, no matter if it is a tv, phone or computer. Would you like to know more about what RGB stands for, how the colour process works, and how the colours are displayed on monitors and more about what RGB colours are used for? Then we will cover all this in the following article.

The reason why RGB colours are called RGB is that it stands for Red, Green, and Blue. It might seem weird that it is those three colours the system is called by, but it is because Red, Green, and Blue are the primary colours in the system. The three colours can be combined into any colour that you need to have displayed. The intensity of the colour will depend on the intensity of either using blue, red, or green. Being able to control the intensity of the colour by adding more or less of one off the three colours, is very important for graphic designers when making unique designs. 

Since the colour process works by getting more intense/bright the more colour you add, it means that if you want the pure white colour, you have to add all colours at their maximum intensity (100%). But if you do add both red, green, and blue at their lowest intensity (0%), you will get the pure black colour. 

The reason why it works this way is that RGB is an additive colour process, where the colours get brighter the more intensity is added. This is in contrast to the CMYK colour process where the colours get darker, the higher intensity you add the colours at. 

Hexa-colours vs RGB colours

RGB colours can also be called hexadecimal colours or be shorted as hex-colours. There is a small difference between hex-colours and RGB colours, it is only how the colour code is shown when making the design. The hex-colour is written with # and then a 6 digit code combining letters and numbers, whereas the RGB is given as coordinates for example 255, 91, 51. 

The three different numbers in the RGB code is what determines the intensity of each of the colours red, green, and blue. The range of the intensity goes from 0 to 255, meaning that 255 is the highest intensity and 0 being the lowest intensity. So if you want the purest red it would be (255, 0, 0), the purest green would be (0, 255, 0), and of course the purest blue would be (0, 0, 255). The reason why the RGB colours are given as this code is that the RGB colours are the most used colour process when making software design, and these codes are easily integrated into the software code.

Where are RGB colours used

As written at the start of this article RGB colours are used for displaying pictures, videos, or other elements on an illuminated screen, such as monitors, tablets, smartphones, and etc. The RGB colours are in general used by almost all digital media that use illuminated colours, which means it is also used by cameras and scanners.

With RGB colours you can create all colours that you wish, so how specific the colours are displayed and the amount of colours displayed in a picture depends on the quality of your monitor and the resolution the file was saved in. Working with RGB colours are the perfect way to start working with design and developing graphic elements. The only thing you have to remember is that CMYK colours can not show specific colours as the RGB colour system.

The RGB colours process cannot be used for printing purposes such as flyers and other physical objects. 

How are RGB colours shown

RGB is the most used way to show colours on screens and it is done via RGB lightning. The RGB LEDs light up screens, but if you see a gamer computer and you see some different lights coming out of it, it is also RGB lights that are doing it. RGB light is using for a lot more than just digital things, but it can also be used in lamps, fans, and neon lights. The great thing about the RGB light and the colours is that you can choose to light as multiple colours or just a single one depending on what you think looks great. 

How does RGB light then work? It actually works really simple and it all comes back to that RGB light works by the three colours Red, Green, Blue. When making the RGB light, it is three differently coloured LEDs put together, and you might already have guessed which colours, yes it is, of course, one red LED, one green LED, and one blue LED. 

When the three LEDs are combining, they work just like normal RGB colours and can form almost all colours that you would like, and of course, reflect the RGB colours you have chosen for the design of your web graphics. One of the reasons why the RGB light has become so popular when used for not only showing elements on screens is because it is very easy to personalise.

How are the RGB lights set-up, when it should display graphics on monitors, TVs or other large scale screens? It is shown by each pixel (the small dots you can see on pictures if they are in low resolution) of the graphics being three small and very close red, blue, and green light sources. When viewing this at normal viewing distance, the eye cannot spot that it is actually three different colours sources. All these pixels together end up forming the image, graphic, or video that is displayed on the screen. 

Anything else

The RGB colour process is a very adaptable colour system, that can be used in a lot of different settings, which also makes it the most used colour system and one that influences everybody’s daily life without knowing. If you have any other questions about RGB colours, or if there is something that we did not explain well enough, please let us know. 

Content and Marketing Manager at Limepack

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