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Here, I am going to be talking about Photoshop's color modes, listed here under the Mode fly-out menu, under the Image menu. We are going to start off with the discussion of additive and subtractive color. Now, here's an interesting trick that we can use to really sort of understand how additive and subtractive color work. So, by additive, I am talking about RGB, Red, Green, Blue, the color of light. Here, I have three shape layers.
One red circle, one green circle, one blue circle. If I change the blending mode of these different layers to Lighten which simulates how they would work with lights, adding one to the next, do that for both. Then, where the colors overlap, where the different primaries red, green, blue overlap, we get our subtractive primaries; cyan, magenta, and yellow.
So the point I want to make here is that as subtractive primaries which are used in the CMYK Color Mode are in many ways the canvas of our additive primaries, whereas cyan, magenta, and yellow, the more you add, the darker things get, with red, green, blue, the more you add, the lighter things get, which is why where all three primary colors overlap in the middle, we have white. Now, here is something interesting.
Look what happens when I invert all the values. Now, I am going to do that by just adding an Invert adjustment layer above all of these layers. Look at that, we have the complete opposite of red, green, blue. We have the CMY subtractive color model, where cyan and magenta overlap, we have blue, magenta, and yellow, we have red, yellow, and cyan, we have green. Because this is a subtractive color model, as we add more, things get darker, which is why where they overlap we have black.
In practice, with offset printing, because of ink impurities, you don't get a black but you get a muddy brown which is why we have a fourth color channel, which is the black, which is our key channel. Some people say that the K is used for black, because the B was already taken for blue, but that's not actually true. The K stands for Key, your key color. It's the color that gives you contrast in your CMYK images. So in the next movies, I am going to be talking about each of these color modes one-by-one and their individual properties.
But, this useful diagram, I am sure you've seen diagrams like this before explains the essential difference between red, green, blue, and CMY. RGB is additive, CMY is subtractive.
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