RGB Definition: What is RGB, How Does RGB Work, and More

What does RGB even mean? Find out this and more with a brief overview of what RGB is and how you can use it in your web designs.

If you’ve ever designed for web application, you’ve probably stumbled across RGB color. Here we break down what RGB actually is, how it works in web design, as well as how designers can get the most out of using it.

What is RGB?
RGB Definition: What is RGB, How Does RGB Work, and More — RGB vs CMYK

When choosing a color for a design, you need to identify which color profile you want to use. A lot of this depends on what application you are using the color for. RGB color profiles are used primarily for computer screen applications, as we explain below. CMYK, in contrast, is mainly used for print operations. These two main color profiles are both widely used, with the RGB color profile being one of the most common. RGB consists of red, green, and blue hues that can create a wide array of different colors when combined.

How Does RGB Work?
RGB Definition: What is RGB, How Does RGB Work, and More — How RBG Works

RGB diagram via petrroudny43. Color wheel via Yulia Glam

RGB color profiles are formed through an additive process. They are used primarily on computer screens and the web. RGB colors are made through light, which can have any intensity, so as a result they can make up a very broad range of colors. When you look at various colors on your computer screen, you’ll see they are based off of the RGB hues red, green, and blue. RGB primary colors at full intensity are white, while at the lowest intensity they’re black.

How Do You Use RGB Color?

RGB color is most often used for web and computer monitor color. It has three channels (red, green, and blue) to create a wide assortment of colors on screen. You are able to adjust the values for each channel to change the color of the image from 0 to 255, independent of one another. If all channels are at 0, you will get a pure black color. Similarly, if all channels are at 255, you will get an all-white color. By adjusting the red, green, and blue channels, you can create any color in the rainbow, along with grays, whites, and blacks.

RGB Definition: What is RGB, How Does RGB Work, and More — Using RGB ColorImage via Mikrobuiz.

For a better understanding of this, play with an online color generator or Photoshop. By typing RGB (0, 0, 0) into Google, and replacing the zeroes with a number from 0 to 255, you can see the incredible amount of colors you can produce, with simply three channels.

Can You Convert RGB to CMYK Without Losing Color?

Since RGB and CMYK color profiles are made from different processes, you can’t expect to convert from RGB to CMYK without losing some color. The CMYK color profile is used for print applications, which has a much smaller range of color than a screen is capable of. CMYK is based off of a combination of four colors. This can make many different shades, but will never have the same depth as the RGB color profile.

Cover image via elenabsl

Want to learn more about using color in design? Check out these articles:

Design Tips: Using Spot Colors in Adobe Photoshop
All About Green: Origin, Theory, Design Applications, and Color Schemes
What Are HEX Colors and How They Work in Design
Pantone Colors: What They Are and How to Use Them
20 Pastel Color Palettes to Get the Rococo Art Look

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