The History of the RGB Color Model

Apr 13, 2017

The RGB color model is an additive color model in which red, green and blue light are added together in various ways to reproduce a broad array of colors. The name of the model comes from the initials of the three additive primary colors, red, green and blue.

The main purpose of the RGB color model is for the sensing, representation and display of images in electronic systems, such as televisions and computers, though it has also been used in conventional photography. Before the electronic age, the RGB color model already had a solid theory behind it, based in the human perception of colors.

RGB is a device-dependent color model: different devices detect or reproduce a given RGB value differently, since the color elements and their response to the individual R, G and B levels vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, or even in the same device over time. Thus an RGB value does not define the same color across devices without some kind of color management process.

Typical RGB input devices are color televisions, image scanners, video games and digital cameras. Typical RGB output devices are television sets of various technologies such as CRT, OLED, LCD, plasma and mobile phone displays to name a few. Color printers on the other hand are not RGB devices, but subtractive color devices - typically the CMYK color model.

Understanding the history of the RGB color model is important to grading artists in the finishing of images and how the audience for their work perceives color. This technical paper written by Andreas Brinck and posted on the Gamasutra website, can be a slow read and at times difficult to follow, but nonetheless worth your time to gain some insight into color. Here's the link to the article:

Visit to learn more about SpeedLooks and how you can easily achieve a great color finish on your next project.