RYB Color Model Standards

RYB Color Model Standards

RYB (an abbreviation of red-yellow-blue) is a historical set of colors used in subtractive color mixing, and is one commonly used set of primary colors. It is primarily used in art and design education, particularly painting.

It predates much of modern scientific color theory, which has demonstrated that magenta, yellow, and cyan is the best set of three colorants to combine, for the widest range of high-chroma colors. Red can be produced by mixing magenta and yellow, blue can be produced by mixing cyan and magenta, and green can be produced by mixing yellow and cyan. In the RYB model, red takes the place of magenta, and blue takes the place of cyan.

RYB (red-yellow-blue) make up the primary color triad in a standard artist's color wheel. The secondary colors purple-orange-green (sometimes called violet-orange-green) make up another triad. Triads are formed by 3 equidistant colors on a particular color wheel. Other common color wheels represent the light model (RGB) and the print model (CMYK).

In his experiments with light, Isaac Newton recognized that colors could be created by mixing color primaries. In his Opticks, Newton published a color wheel to show the geometric relationship between these primaries. This chart was later confused and understood to apply to pigments as well, though Newton was also unaware of the differences between additive and subtractive color mixing. The RYB model was used for printing, by Jacob Christoph Le Blon, as early as 1725.

Starting from Goethe, it was increasingly understood that mixing of colored light in the eye is a process different from mixing of dyes. Subsequently, German and English scientists established in the late 19th century that color perception is best described in terms of a different set of primary colors - red, green and blue (RGB) modeled through the additive, rather than subtractive, mixture of three monochromatic lights, also known as spectral colors.