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The RGB Color Space

For the purposes of computer use, colors in the RGB color space are described by a sequence of three numbers. Each number represents the amount of Red, Blue, or Green component respectively, on a scale of 0 to 255. This allows each value to fit in a one-byte space. For example, Cyan is created by mixing Green and Blue, with no Red, represented as 0, 255, 255. In hexadecimal, the digits are commonly run together as a single 24-bit value: 00FFFF.

On the RGB color wheel, the six colors are shown in Table 1.

Table 1-The RGB Color Wheel as 24-bit Values

Color

Decimal

Hexadecimal

Red

255, 0, 0

FF0000

Yellow

255, 255, 0

FFFF00

Green

0, 255, 0

00FF00

Cyan

0, 255, 255

00FFFF

Blue

0, 0, 255

0000FF

Violet

255, 0, 255

FF00FF


Given a 24-bit color space, it is possible to represent more than 16 million colors (16,777,216). Unfortunately, not all computer systems are capable of displaying that many colors. Trying to display too many colors on a system that is not capable of displaying more than a few colors can create unique problems. That is why the engineers who created the first graphical Web browsers created a limited color space for use on the Web.

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