RYB color model

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A 19th-century representation of RYB color mixing

RYB (an abbreviation of redyellowblue) denotes the use of red, yellow, and blue pigments as primary colors in art and design, particularly painting.[1]

Color wheel[edit]

Claude Boutet's 1708 color circle uses the same arrangement of primary and secondary colors, and same color names as modern RYB color circles.

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


The 1613 RYB color scheme of Franciscus Aguilonius (Francisci Agvilonii), with primaries yellow (flavus), red (rubeus), and blue (caeruleus) arranged between white (albus) and black (niger), with orange (aureus), green (viridis), and purple (purpureus) as combinations of two primaries.
Le Blon's 1725 description of mixing red, yellow, and blue paints or printing inks

The first known instance of the RYB triad can be found in the work of Franciscus Aguilonius (1567–1617), although he did not arrange the colors in a wheel.[2]

The RYB model was used for printing, by Jacob Christoph Le Blon, c. 1721–1725.[3]

In the 18th century, the RYB primary colors became the foundation of theories of color vision, as the fundamental sensory qualities that are blended in the perception of all physical colors and equally in the physical mixture of pigments or dyes. These theories were enhanced by 18th-century investigations of a variety of purely psychological color effects, in particular, the contrast between "complementary" or opposing hues that are produced by color afterimages and in the contrasting shadows in colored light. These ideas and many personal color observations were summarized in two founding documents in color theory: the Theory of Colours (1810) by the German poet and government minister Johann Wolfgang von Goethe,[4] and The Law of Simultaneous Color Contrast (1839) by the French industrial chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul.[5]

The cyan, magenta, and yellow primary colors associated with CMYK printing are sometimes known as "process blue", "process red", and "process yellow".[6][7]

An RYB color chart from George Field's 1841 Chromatography; or, A treatise on colours and pigments: and of their powers in painting showing a red close to magenta and a blue close to cyan, as is typical in printing.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Taylor, Angie (2013). Design Essentials for the Motion Media Artist: A Practical Guide to Principles & Techniques. Taylor & Francis. p. 235. ISBN 9781136136856. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
  2. ^ "Franciscus Aguilonius". Colorsystem: Colour order systems in art and science. Archived from the original on 2014-02-13.
  3. ^ Davenport, Cyril (1903). Mezzotints. Putnam. pp. 27–28. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  4. ^ Goethe, Theory of Colours, trans. Charles Lock Eastlake, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1982. ISBN 0-262-57021-1
  5. ^ Chevreul, Michel Eugène (1861). The Laws of Contrast of Colour. London: Routledge, Warne, and Routledge. – English translation by John Spanton
  6. ^ St. John, Eugene (February 1924). "Some Practical Hints on Presswork". Inland Printer, American Lithographer. 72 (5): 805. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  7. ^ White, Jan (2003). Editing by Design: For Designers, Art Directors, and Editors—the Classic Guide to Winning Readers. Simon and Schuster. p. PT460. ISBN 9781581159387. Retrieved 18 February 2019.