Primary Colors

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Wikipedia.
Related to Primary Colors: Secondary colors

primary colors

[′prī‚mer·ē ′kəl·ərz]
Three colors, red, yellow, and blue, which can be combined in various proportions to produce any other color.
Any three colors that can be mixed in proper proportions to specify other colors; they need not be physically realizable.

Primary colors

Hues red, yellow, and blue. From these three colors, with the addition of white, it is possible to create the full color spectrum.

Primary Colors


three colors that can be optically mixed in such a way that the color obtained is visually indistinguishable from any given color. A color C that is being measured or reproduced can be represented in terms of the primary colors E1, E2, and E3 as the sum C that is indistinguishable from C; C’ = m1E1 + m2E2 + m3E3, where m1, m2, and m3 are the quantities of the primary colors being mixed. These quantities are called the coordinates of C (one and sometimes two coordinates can be negative).

A set of primary colors constitutes a tristimulus colorimetric system. There is an infinite number of possible systems of primary colors. However, not just any set of three different, arbitrarily selected colors can serve as a set of primary colors, because no one of the three primary colors should be represented as the sum of any quantities of the other two colors. A color C can be defined in any tristimulus system; the transition from one system to another is achieved through simple relationships. To compare color measurements of different systems it is customary to recompute the results in units of a standard international system with the primary colors X, Y, and Z (these colors do not correspond to any visually perceived real colors).

The three primary colors most frequently used are red, green, and blue. The colors purple (blue-red), azure (green-blue), and yellow are used in multicolor printing and in color photography, where colors are reproduced by the more complicated process of substractive mixing.

The concept of primary colors and the relationships based on this concept are widely used in theoretical and practical colorimetry. However, the methods of tristimulus systems are inadequate for the solution of a number of subtle, complex problems associated with measurements and quantitative description of colors.

References in periodicals archive ?
Adrian, aged 30, says: "I said I couldn't read for Primary Colors because it clashed with Othello.
learn how to mix primary colors and make secondary colors.
Brown can be made by mixing a primary color with its complement.
Yellow, cyan, and magenta pigments, on the other hand, each reflect two of the primary colors of light, in exactly equal proportions.
During this lesson, students focused on the experimental use of primary colors to make the secondary colors, creating a playful, imaginary background.
See, for instance, in the detail reproduced in Artforum, the image in the bottom row, far right, which corresponds to page 536: "He beams at Katje, a sunburst in primary colors spiking out from his head.
In kindergarten, to teach primary colors, I turn to Dutch artist Piet Mondrian.
Edward Yardeni, chief economist and global investment strategist at Deutsche Banc Alex Brown, and Joe Klein, New Yorker correspondent and author of Primary Colors, will deliver the keynote addresses.
It contrasts well with royal blue pansies and cherry red dianthus, creating a radiant display of primary colors.
With the primary colors intensified, the LCD images remain bright even when the display is exposed to direct sunlight.
The primary colors of visible energy (light) are orange-red, green and violet-blue.
The other walls are painted in solid bright primary colors, and in contrast the drawings become even more elusive; bright lights from above chase the shadows away.