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Primary Colors- What Are They Exactly?

Children love colors. They get attracted to the hues and shades of varied pigments around them. As they start exploring different colors, they are able to visually discriminate them. Learning colors is one of the important developmental areas in their cognitive progress. Early identification of colors creates cognitive links between visual clues and words.

To begin with, children are taught about primary colors from an early age. 

What are primary colors?

Primary colors are special colors which are used to create all other colors. These are colors that can't be made by combining other colors. They stand on their own as hues.

Check out the video to learn more about the primary colors.

How many primary colors are there? What are the 3 main primary colors?

Traditionally, in art education materials, these special colors are red, blue and yellow. These colors cannot be made from other colors. Red, yellow, and blue are your primary colors if you're painting. But your fundamental primary colors when discussing physics and light are red, green, and blue.

primary colors

The colors that we get by mixing primary colors are called secondary colors. These are green, purple and orange, where-

  1. Green= Blue + Yellow
  2. Purple= Blue + Red
  3. Orange= Red + Yellow

The colors that are formed by mixing the secondary colors and primary colors are called tertiary colors or intermediate colors, due to their compound nature. These are:

  1. Red-Violet
  2. Blue-Violet
  3. Blue- Green
  4. Yellow-Green
  5. Yellow- Orange
  6. Red- Orange

Types of Primary Colors

Let’s learn primary colors and secondary colors in a descriptive manner.

Additive Colors

However, in the world of physics, as per the electronic color wheel, which is used for computers and televisions, red, blue and green or RGB are considered as the primary colors. These are the three primary colors of light, also known as the additive colors. This implies that by mixing these three additive RGB colors, all other colors can be made. The combination of these colors in equal proportions gives white, whereas removing them results in black.

Subtractive Colors

The secondary colors are created by mixing the primary colors of light, which are also known as subtractive colors. These are cyan, magenta and yellow. Subtractive colors reflect less light when they are mixed together.

  1. Red= Magenta+ Yellow
  2. Green= Cyan+ Yellow
  3. Blue= Cyan + Magenta

The tertiary colors are made by adding secondary and primary colors together. They are:

  1. Orange= Yellow+ Red
  2. Chartreuse Green=Yellow + Green
  3. Spring Green= Green+ Cyan
  4. Violet= Blue+ Magenta
  5. Rose= Red + Magenta

In CMYK color space,

  1. Cyan+ Yellow= Green
  2. Yellow+ Magenta= Red
  3. Magenta+ Cyan= Blue

If all the colors are mixed in equal proportions, we get shades of grey and black. Due to this reason, the fourth color is black, represented by K, where K stands for Kohle, meaning coal in German. The CMYK model is the recognized standard model for printers. If the colors are subtracted, the result will be white.

Colors are all around us. They hold specific meaning and significance too. Besides, they are powerful enough to evoke emotions!

Coloring Activities For Kids


primary colors   primary colors

primary colors   primary colors

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