Understanding Color Models

What is a Color Model?

A color model is a system for creating a full range of color(s) from a set of color components and or primary color(s). Derived from a mathematical (digital) model describing the way colors can be represented sets of numerical values, typically as three or four values or color components. When this model is associated with a precise description of how the components are to be interpreted (viewing conditions, etc.), the resulting set of colors is called color space.

All accurate and scientific color representation is based on color models. To achieve high quality, accurate simulated process color screen printing an actual color model is the first component in the process. The CWB color model was developed for Ink Seps and is the ideal color model for screen printing.

Types of Color Models

A color model is a system for creating a full range of colors from a small set of color components or primary colors. There are two types of color models, additive and subtractive.

The two types of color models for the display and simulation or representation of color are.

1. Additive  color models that use the emission of light ass added colors to display color, such as the RGB color model.

2. Subtractive color models use the reflection of color printing inks to display color, such as the CMYK, and CWB color models.

The main difference between the additive and subtractive color models are. Additive color is emitted or projected in the for of light. Subtractive color is emitted or projected as the reflection of color from pigment based substances such as screen printing inks.

RGB Color Model


The RGB model is an additive color model. With the additive color model RGB red, green and blue light are added together and reproduce a wide spectrum of colors.

The RGB color model is primarily used for the display of images in devises, television screen, computer monitors, cell phones and it’s also used in digital photography. LCD, plasma and LED displays all use the RGB model to emit color as light. Digital cameras use RGB to capture light and produce digital images.

CWB Color Model


The CWB color model could be used for both additive and subtractive color models. In this article we will focus on the subtractive color aspect of the CWB color model. With CWB subtractive color all the color in the visible spectrum of light is hitting the image but only the color in the image is reflected and perceivable. The rest of the color in visible color spectrum is not reflected but absorbed by or into the image.

Therefore, printed color and color models are known as subtractive color or color models, the color that is not in the image is subtracted from visible spectrum of light and only the color that is in the image reflected back as visible perceivable color.

Subtractive color and color models are primarily used for various form of printing. Such as inkjets, screen printing and other forms of printing.

Iron Man Image Split into RGB channels








Iron Man Image Split into CWB Channels










The RGB color channels would then be emitted from a devise as red, green, and blue light which is added or combined to create the simulation of a full color image. Color blending is achieved threw emitting the red, green, and blue colors at various levels of light and color intensity.


The CWB color channels or separations would then be printed as individual color(s) with halftone dot silk screens. The halftone dot printing creates the simulation of the colors blended together reproducing many different, tints, shades and tones of the color(s). These are the colors that would be reflected threw the CWB subtractive color model.

Understanding the two different types of color models let’s take a deeper look at subtractive color and the CWB color model

The CWB color model is based on accurately reproducing the visible spectrum of pure from light as its foundation. Theb white and black and introduced to pure color to accurately match and make tints, shades and tones of the color(s) with the color spectrum. Thus the name of the color model. CWB or Corel White Black.

As with any technology the foundation is the beginning point of success and accuracy.  Therefore, with CWB we start with the visible spectrum of light and divide that into color components. CWB is a unique color model in that it works with variable color components.

3 120 ° color components or divisions would be cyan, magenta and Yell the primary colors.

6 60°s of color components or divisions would be red, yellow, green, cyan, blue and Magenta which are primary colors from both the additive RGB color model and the subtractive CMY color model.

12 30°s of color components or divisions would be red, orange, yellow, lime, green, mint, cyan, azure, blue, violet, magenta, and rose.

Threw the variable color components of the CWB color the the visible spectrum of color and can be reproduced with greater accuracy. Yet with the versatility of variable color components for the printing process. The result is more accurate color reproduction and accuracy.


The variable color components feature in the CWB color model makes it a flexible more accurate color model for simulated process screen printing. The benefit is being able to work with the actual colors in the image and printing those color as opposed to simulating the colors.

Instead of simulate a color like orange with yellow and magenta in CMY you can print the actual orange. This results is more accurate color reproduction on the press.


The above CWB simulated process color separations demonstrate how the image of the crayons wold printed with color components from the CWB color model. Instead of simulating the colors the actual colors are printing resulting more accurate color reproduction. When compared to the CMYK color separations below in which all the color is printed threw the simulation of mixing colors.


Color Models and Digital Color Values

All color models have digital values associated with their color components. These digital values are the amount of the color component(s) in any given color. The RGB color model digital values range from 0 to 255. For example, in RGB put orange R 255, B 128, G 0. The CMYK color model digital value range from 0 to 100 and orange would be C 0, M 100, Y 50, K 0. These digital values can be difficult to understand and only serve the function representing the colors digital values.

The CWB color model is completely different and function based on an understandable set of colors that based on the percentages of the color component(s), black and white. Orange in CWB would O (orange) 100, W 0, B 0 a pure orange color with no black or white. Since CWB is a variable color component model orange could also be R (red) 50, Y (Yellow) 50, W 0 B 0.

With the CWB color model the color(s) digital values always equal 100 and the digital values are the percentages of the color, black and white in color. CWB goes beyond digital values as mere color values and describes digitally based on percentages. These percentages can also be used as the color(s), color matching formula both in the digital color arena and in matching color with any pigment-based substance such ink or paint. CWB is the only color model provides percentage based digital values that are also the percentage-based color matching formulas based on the colors digital values.

Comments 3

    1. Post

      The understanding of color and color models was the biggest breakthrough in my design work and screen printing work. I am glad to able to share relevant and accurate information.

  1. Thomas Knight contribution like this article and videos which he has been uploading contain tons of knowledge for a graphic artists for screen printing and as well as Screen Printer.His articles and videos are must for screen printing designers and screen printers.

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