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Color modes

From: Photoshop CS6 Quick Start for Photographers

Video: Color modes

I think this lesson is going to be especially easy. Because basically, I'm going to tell you that you don't need to worry about something. And that's always nice, isn't it? You probably already know that you're working on your images in Photoshop as RGB images. And that means red, green, and blue. And the reason for that is that red green and blue are the primary colors for emitted light. It's also the colors that our camera captures in most cases. We can look on the Channels panel for example and see where the red light is in the image. Where the green light is in the image, and where the blue light is in the image. Where there is lots of light of all three colors, of course we get white or nearly white.

Color modes

I think this lesson is going to be especially easy. Because basically, I'm going to tell you that you don't need to worry about something. And that's always nice, isn't it? You probably already know that you're working on your images in Photoshop as RGB images. And that means red, green, and blue. And the reason for that is that red green and blue are the primary colors for emitted light. It's also the colors that our camera captures in most cases. We can look on the Channels panel for example and see where the red light is in the image. Where the green light is in the image, and where the blue light is in the image. Where there is lots of light of all three colors, of course we get white or nearly white.

And where there's very little light of all three colors we get black, or nearly black. But all three of those colors mix to create all of the colors we're able to see or create in Photoshop. In some cases you ofcourse you might not be working with an RGB image, but frankly that's not going to be very often. Let's take a loot at the Image Mode menu. I'll go to the Image menu and click on the Mode menu and that will bring up the options for color. You can see that RGB color is checked. Which means that I'm currently working in the RGB color mode. So, I'm using intensities of red, green, and blue light to specify the particular color value for each pixel.

Another option you might be familiar with is CMYK color. CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. Cyan, magenta, and yellow are the primary subtractive colors. They relate to reflected light. In other words, the printed image in the context most of us are familiar with. The k is added so that a true black can be obtained in print. K stands for black or the key color. Because it's usually used to align all of the other colors when printing in an offset press environment. If you have a Photo Inkjet printer, you're probably aware that it uses cyan, magenta, yellow and black ink colors.

Sometimes variations on these, but those are the standard colors. However, you should think of that printer as an RGB device. And you should still work in the RGB color mode when you're printing your own images. In fact, you should pretty much always be working in the RGB color mode. CMYK is a specialized color mode used specifically for printing. And in most cases, you won't need to convert your images to CMYK. Another option is Lab color. And the Lab color mode is actually based on Lab color, of course which is a model that defines colors based upon the way the human eye actually interprets them. In fact, lab color is what's used behind the scenes in Photoshop, to truly define the colors you're working with.

There are certain specialized situations where you might want to work in lab color. But for most photographers it's not really necessary. An I would consider at a more advanced option. There's also a Gray-scale option. An this might be somewhere you think you need to go, if you want to create a black and white version of a photograph. However, it's generally best to work in the RGB color mode. Even if you want to produce a black and white interpretation. There are some other specialized color modes here, but those, you really don't need to worry about either. So, really for most photographers, all you need to know about is RGB color. It can be helpful to understand some of the other options here. But bear in mind that generally speaking, when working with your photographic images, you should always be working in RGB color.

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Photoshop CS6 Quick Start for Photographers

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Tim Grey
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