::Color space


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Comparison of some RGB and CMYK colour gamuts on a CIE 1931 xy chromaticity diagram
A comparison of the chromaticities enclosed by some color spaces.

A color space is a specific organization of colors. In combination with physical device profiling, it allows for reproducible representations of color, in both analog and digital representations. A color space may be arbitrary, with particular colors assigned to a set of physical color swatches and corresponding assigned names or numbers such as with the Pantone system, or structured mathematically, as with Adobe RGB or sRGB. A color model is an abstract mathematical model describing the way colors can be represented as tuples of numbers (e.g. triples in RGB or quadruples in CMYK); however, a color model with no associated mapping function to an absolute color space is a more or less arbitrary color system with no connection to any globally understood system of color interpretation. Adding a specific mapping function between a color model and a reference color space establishes within the reference color space a definite "footprint", known as a gamut, and for a given color model this defines a color space. For example, Adobe RGB and sRGB are two different absolute color spaces, both based on the RGB color model. When defining a color space, the usual reference standard is the CIELAB or CIEXYZ color spaces, which were specifically designed to encompass all colors the average human can see.

Since "color space" is a more specific term, identifying a particular combination of color model and mapping function, it tends to be used informally to identify a color model, since identifying a color space automatically identifies the associated color model, however this usage is strictly incorrect. For example, although several specific color spaces are based on the RGB color model, there is no such thing as the singular RGB color space.

Color space sections
Intro   Examples    Conversion    RGB density    Lists    Absolute color space   See also  References  External links  

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