The Primary Colors of Light


These are different from primary colors in art. If you need to know red, blue, and yellow are color primary colors. Go to this color worm address below and you'll find a great coloring book to explain this to your students.  It's free and downloadable. Thank you Laurie, for pointing this out to me!


Colorworm explains color! 



Primary Color Wheel


The primary colors of light are red, green, and blue

Red, blue, and green are the primary colors of light. Mixing these colors can produce all of the colors of the spectrum.


The Complementary Colors

Complementary Color Wheel

The complementary colors are cyan, magenta, and yellow which are formed by combining the two adjacent primary colors. Red and blue make magenta, blue and green make cyan, and red and green make yellow.

The Color Wheel

Complete Color Wheel

The primary and complementary colors combine to make the Color Wheel. Clockwise from the top the colors are: yellow, green, cyan, blue, magenta and red. On the Color Wheel, harmonizing colors are adjacent. Contrasting colors are separated by another color. Red and green are contracting colors. Colors that clash are opposite on the wheel - green and magenta for example.


The hue is the basic color that distinguishes one color from another - blue from red for example.

Saturation is the purity of hue. A saturated blue, for example, is composed only of pure blue color. Hues can become desaturated by the addition of either black (shadow) or white (light). Adding light makes the color more pale, producing a tint. Adding black, by covering the color with a shadow, gives a shade. In the diagram below the center wheel has pure fully saturated color. As you move to the left black is added to produce shades. As you move to the right white is added to produce tints.

The luminance of a color is the characteristic we describe when we say a color is light or dark. A bright color seems to reflect more light than a dark one.