A Quick Color Explanation
It's pretty easy to understand
the words color codes, but those hex codes are rather
strange. Here's a quick explanation.
The three primary colors are
red, blue, and yellow. Remember that from elementary school
art? They're called the primary colors because there are no
two "lesser" colors that make them up. Purple is not a primary
color because it can be created by combining equal parts of
blue and red.
In the world of mechanical
things that make color, like a television or a computer screen,
color is created by mixing three basic colors to make other
colors. It's a process known as "additive color."
You would think that the TVs
and computer monitors of the world would simply use the three
primary colors to start with, but nothing in life can be that
easy. The three colors used to start additive color mixing
are red, green, and blue. Why, you ask? Because by starting
with one composite color, green, you can still create yellow,
because it's contained in the green. In addition, now you
are actually starting with four colors, red, green, blue,
yellow. Stay with me here....
To go on, I need to explain
a second process of working with colors: "subtractive color."
Subtractive color is the concept of combining colors to make
another, like mixing red and blue to get purple. That may
sound like additive color, but in reality, colors are made
by subtracting a hue out of the color scheme by adding more
of another. Adding more white to black makes it more silver,
subtracting more black as more white is mixed in. Get it?
In photography classes you really learn to think backwards!
One other big difference between
additive and subtractive color, and this is the key, is what
you get when you add them all together.
If you add all the colors
together in a subtractive color method, you get black. Why?
Because you added them all together and all those colors subtracted
from all the others leaving no set color... or black.
A computer, on the other hand,
works with light, not paint or any other goopy stuff. Mix
a computer's additive colors -- red, green, and blue -- and
you get white.
No kidding, you really do.
Shine a white light at a prism or a lead crystal glass. You'll
get a rainbow of colors. Actually, that's how a rainbow is
created. White light is being shown through water in the air.
That separates the white light into the "rainbow" of colors.
Now on to the six-digit representation
of color known as the hex code.
Basic Hexadecimal Notation:
Hex numbers use 16 digits:
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
Zero, "0", is the smallest
representations of a color. It's almost the total absence
of color. F is 15 times the intensity of the color of 0. Combinations
of these digits create different shades of a particular color.
Double zero, "00," is equal to zero hue. FF is equal to a
This color representation
is done three times, once for red, once for green, and once
for blue, in that order. Put the three, two-digit codes together
and you get a six-digit hex code. The hex code is just a representation
of the red, green, and blue intensity, in that order. The
computer creates the three intensities, mashes them together,
and you get a single shade of color.
For an example, here are the
opposite ends of the color scale:
The code above is equal to
white. Why? Notice the three colors are all set to FF. That
means the highest level of red, green, and blue. As I said
above, in a computer or television, the combination of all
three primary colors creates white. Now here's black:
This is just the opposite.
All three settings of red, green, and blue are set to a total
absence of color. Black.
Now, here are a few other
codes and their breakdowns:
Let's start with the concern
from up above, yellow. The code above produces pure yellow.
Notice the red and the green are at full tilt. There is no
blue. By mashing the red and green up against each other,
the red cancels out the blue and all that is left is the yellow.
It's actually a subtractive color method being employed in
an additive world. Man, this gets loopy, huh?
The code above creates a shade
of red called "crimson." The red setting, DC, is pretty intense.
There's not much green. Blue is set a little less than halfway
That's violet. The red and
the blue are at pretty high levels. The green is there, but
at a lower level. Now, this is not purple, but violet. Purple,
as I said above, is a combination of red and blue alone. The
code is 800080. Notice there's no green at all. Just an equal
amount of red and blue.
That's orange. There's lots
of red, not quite an equal level of green, and no blue.
That's how the hex codes
work. This lesson probably won't make you an expert in color
creation, but at least you'll be able to understand the creation
of color in a computer.
So, are there more hex code
colors that what I show above? Oh, yes. There are thousands
upon thousands covering every color in the scale from pure
black to pure white. Every time you change even one of the
red, green, or blue levels, you change the color.
Feel free to change the colors
to get exactly the shade you want.