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Home : Photoshop Articles : Origin of Color

Origin of Color

What is the origin of the color? What is the physiology of human vision? When we see something, what exactly it means? We need to go to some scientific experiments to find out the answers of these questions.

Sir Isaac Newton

It was Sir Isaac Newton who experimented with the colors and the origin of the colors in 1666.


He concentrated on the nature of spectrum we find in the rainbow for his experiment. He achieved the same spectrum when he passed a beam of sunlight through a glass prism. Newton named these colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Another experiment was carried out by passing a spectrum through glass prism. The output came in the form of white light. The experiments were going on and the third was about the complementary colors. With the help of two prisms he produced different colors on the same spot having white background. The combinations of these colors were producing the color, which lies between two source colors in the spectrum. Isaac Newton came to some amazing conclusions after these experiments.

1. Color is not in the glass it is in the light

2. White light is a mixture of all the colors of the spectrum


Origin of the Color

Then comes the property of illusion. It is called metamerism. Newton described this property where two colors look identical when viewed under certain light source but it looks different under different source of light.

James Clerk Maxwell

In 19th century, Physicist James Clerk Maxwell discovered the fact that mixing just three light sources - red, green and blue, can produce wide range of colors. Computer monitors runs on the same principle of producing color from these three light primaries.

Human Vision

You are seeing mango. How your eyes see it? What is the functioning behind it? Color is in light. If we check out sunlight, it is colorless, but as we have seen, when passed through prism gives spectrum. So let us take the example of mango. The functioning of vision takes place as follows.


Light falls from the source (the sun) on the object (the mango) and then it goes to the human eye.

The sunlight shines the mango.

All the colors in the sunlight are absorbed by the yellow surface of the mango except those related with yellow, and reflected to human eye.
The eye receives the reflected yellow light from the object (the mango) and sends message to the brain.

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