Looney Labs Icehouse Mailing list Archive

[Icehouse] A geeky ramble on "cyan" and "green plus blue"

  • FromCarl Worth <cworth@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • DateFri, 07 Sep 2007 09:42:58 -0700
On Fri, 07 Sep 2007 01:43:14 -0700, Scott Sulzer wrote:
> Then again, people are calling cyan a lighter version of blue when it is, in
> fact, a combination of blue and green,

A quick note here.

I'm definitely in the "light blue" crowd. I've just never understood
how the current pyramid color could be officially title "cyan" when to
me it looks nothing like what I understand the color cyan to be.

So, now I just checked with wikipedia and my confusion became quite


The cyan I learned, (from a computer graphics background), wikipedia
calls "electric cyan", "web color aqua", "electrical blue". This is a
secondary color in an additive color system with red, green, and blue
primaries, (it is 100% green + 100% blue). That's the cyan I've always
known and loved.

Meanwhile, there's another color there called "process cyan", "pigment
cyan", or "printer's cyan" which is a primary color in the subtractive
CMY system used for printing. And indeed _this_ color, (meaning, the
particular RGB formulation that wikipedia demonstrates), does look
very much like a "cyan" pyramid from Xeno set I have here.

So now at least I understand where the pyramid color name comes from,
(I'd really always been baffled that it was named "cyan" rather than
"light blue"). To me, I would never have named a pyramid as "cyan"
unless it looked to me like the additive secondary color shown on the
wikipedia page.

And I do feel a little smug and justified in my pre-conceived notion
now. "Cyan" as used as a name for the subtractive primary color makes
it a perfectly legitimate name for the current pyramid color. But it's
not all that accurate to call it "green plus blue". It's a primary
color, not obtainable by any mixing in the subtractive system that
gives it its name. And, if you do form this color from an additive RGB
color system it wouldn't be with an even mix of green plus blue. It
would be something more like 70% green plus 92% blue, (again using the
particular formulation quoted on the wikipedia page).

> lighter shade of red.  Both of which work to make the entire light/dark
> arguments moot, canceling the entire line of thought as well as this
> argument, true?

I don't think so. Given the actual colors of the currently available
plastic, I think "light blue" and "dark blue" could be argued
convincingly from a single "grand unified theory of pyramid color
schemes".  It's the official names of "blue" and "cyan" that are
harder to reconcile, but those names themselves might be hard to
justify from a single color system.

So maybe that was meaningless to everyone else. But I for one, am no
longer going to feel guilty about calling these pyramids "light blue"
instead of "cyan". And again, this might just be my computer graphics
background that has wired my brain to think in terms of additive RGB.


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