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Colours has always been a very important part in graphic design, architecture and interior design. There is often put a lot of effort into getting the exact right colours.

My hope with this site is that some of you that happen to stumble upon it will more realize the importance of colours - to learn that there is more to colours than you used to think. This will be a step in the right direction for colours on the web.

Personally, it was when I got more interested in photography, drawing and computer graphics that I realized that colours are more complex than I had ever thought. I discovered the fun of combining colours together, and creating effects that the single colours themselves does not express. This is a fun that anyone making a web-page get to have. So next time you make a web page, stop to think about the colours a little. Experiment and be creative, and discover the power of colours.

So, what are colours?

There are numerous other webpages out there which describes these things in much detail, so I will just keep it short. Most of the physical properties of colours are things you can do without, and still be able to use colours in a useful way.

Technically speaking colours are the way our brain, by use of our eyes, interpret electromagnetic radiation of a wavelenght between 350 and 750 nanometer. The different wavelength are seen as different colours, as in the spectrum below. You have most likely seen a spectrum like this many times before, so I am not going to say anything more about it.

Colour Wheel

In colour theory we often talk about the colour wheel. A colour wheel is pretty much just the spectrum twisted around so that the violett and red ends are joined. The colour wheel is particularly useful for showing how the colours relates to each other, and how you can create new colours by mixing two or more colours.

Primary Colours

Among the colours in the colour wheel there are three colours which are referred to as the primary colours. All other colours can be created by mixing these three colours. The primary colours are red, green and blue.

Subtractive colours Red, green and blue?

Some of you might have learned that the primary colours are red, yellow and blue. In saying this you are both right and wrong. In classic colour theory the primaries are red, yellow and blue. However, since here we deal with colours on a screen, it is more practical to think of red, green and blue as primaries. To explain this further we need to introduce two more terms - additive colour systems and subtractive colour systems.

The additative colours system is what computer monitors and TV screens use - any colour source that emits the light itself. If you look very very close on your screen, you will see that it is built up of tiny red, green and blue dots. In the additative system you get white when the three primary colours are present at 100%.

The subtractive colour system on the other hand is what comes to play in printing, drawing, painting and such. This is when the colour does not emit any light of its own, but refects light from the surrounding. In the subtractive colour system you get black when all colours are mixed. And this is where one of the primary colours is yellow. The secondary colours is what you get when you mix any two adjacent primary colours. Red and green gives yellow, red and blue give you magenta and a mix of green and blue result in a cyan colour. The secondary colours are also the primary colours in the subtractive colour system.

Tertiary Colours

To complete the colour wheel we need to add the tertiary colours. The tertiary colours are those who lies in between the primary and secondary.

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