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Color Theory Part 3: Object’s Colorant!

The reflected color wavelength of an object when viewed yields perceived color. The property of an object dissipates the light wavelength into other forms resulting the perceived color wavelength.

A red can of soda sits at my desk. The reflected color of the can is red due to the object’s colorants absorb the other colors in the visible light spectrum reflecting only the red wavelengths. Upon closer inspection, the red shows different shades getting brighter in areas. The aluminum’s reflective property reflects higher intensity red wavelengths at different angles. When the can is held and rotated slowly, an even shade of red is viewed.

In process offset CMYK printing, the colorants used to produce color are the substrate (paper), cyan, magenta, yellow and black process inks. Process inks are not completely opaque allowing for the inks to mix and form color builds. The substrate’s colorant interacts with the applied inks generating the perceived color.

Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black inks are used in CMYK printing due to absorption each colorant performs.

Cyan absorbs red color wavelengths.

Magenta absorbs green color wavelengths.

Yellow absorbs blue color wavelengths.

Black absorbs the whole visible color wavelength. Black is used as a cost effective measure to produce dark colors. If black is not used, three times the amount of ink is required of cyan, magenta and yellow to make the black shade.

Looking at the inverse, if a viewer perceives equal green and blue wavelengths, the perceived color is cyan. If equal red and blue are viewed, magenta is perceived. If equal red and green, yellow is perceived.

Why is the color perceived? Is it not the color?

To be continued in Color Theory Part 4, Human eye.

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