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RYB (an abbreviation of red–yellow–blue) is a subtractive color model used in art and applied design in which red, yellow, and blue pigments are considered primary colors. Under traditional color theory, this set of primary colors was advocated by Moses Harris, Michel Eugène Chevreul, Johannes Itten and Josef Albers, and applied by countless artists and designers. The RYB color model underpinned the color curriculum of the Bauhaus, Ulm School of Design and numerous art and design schools that were influenced by the Bauhaus, including the IIT Institute of Design (founded as the New Bauhaus), Black Mountain College, Design Department Yale University, the Shillito Design School, Sydney, and Parsons School of Design, New York.
In this context, the term primary color refers to three exemplar colors (red, yellow, and blue) as opposed to specific pigments. As illustrated, in the RYB color model, red, yellow, and blue are intermixed to create secondary color segments of orange, green, and purple. This set of primary colors emerged at a time when access to a large range of pigments was limited by availability and cost, and it encouraged artists and designers to explore the many nuances of color through mixing and intermixing a limited range of pigment colors. In art and design education, red, yellow, and blue pigments were usually augmented with white and black pigments, enabling the creation of a larger gamut of color nuances including tints and shades.
Although scientifically obsolete because it does not meet the definition of a complementary color in which a neutral or black color must be mixed, it is still a model used in artistic environments, causing confusion about primary and complementary colors.
The RYB color model relates specifically to color in the form of paint and pigment application in art and design. Other common color models include the light model (RGB) and the paint, pigment and ink CMY color model, which is much more accurate in terms of color gamut and intensity compared to the traditional RYB color model, the latter emerging in conjunction with the CMYK color model in the printing industry.
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