Primary Colors

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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 ?
HOLLYWOOD Cable networks TBS and TNT have purchased first broadcast rights to Universal's runaway hit "The Mummy" in a package that also includes "Life," "EDtv" and "Primary Colors."
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The Primary Colors star has persuaded Tom Hanks, Arnold Schwarzenneger, John Travolta, Mel Gibson and Dustin Hoffman to part with pounds 1,000 each to save the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, gutted by fire two years ago.
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These, then, are the three primary colors of human vision.
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Indeed, after the 51st annual fest in May--which opened with Mike Nichols's cowardly Primary Colors, went nuts over Blues Brothers 2000, and ended with Godzilla--one might conclude that the festival is no longer really "about" anything at all; it just keeps happening once a year, a natural phenomenon like the migraine-inducing mistral swooping south down the Rhone Valley, or the appearance of Roger Ebert in a sports shirt.
Everyone in the media is thrilled to be hot on the trail of the anonymous author of Primary Colors, but when the truth comes out, reporters clear their deep throats and protest that a journalist has lied.
We discussed color the following day, reiterating our knowledge of the primary colors and speculating what might happen if we mixed the primary colors together.
Delight is now available in primary colors, as well as white.
(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.") The images required hours of historical research and are as true to the descriptions in the text as possible.