What Is RGB Color?

By: Mitch Ryan  | 
RGB color
RGB color is used in most technology color correction, including the post-production process in video and film editing. ERIK Miheyeu/Shutterstock

If you've ever heard a person mention RGB and wondered what they're talking about, most likely they're talking about color. RGB represents red, green and blue, the three components essential to any interactive technology we use today.

Werner Flechsig invented the RGB model in 1938 for color television broadcasts, relaying different colors with RGB signals. Before that, pixels only appeared in a black and white format displayed in classic films and shows. However, color spaces are now common in all electronic systems with display screens, including computer monitors, digital cameras and smartphones.


What Is Color Space?

If you've ever used a color picker slider in photo-editing software, you'll be familiar with the concept of color space. Each swatch and palette represents a combination of primary colors between white and black.

By selecting a base color and combining it with equal intensities of another primary color, you convert it to any given color space on the visible spectrum. For instance, combining red and blue will form purple as your selected color. However, within that purple palette are shades including blue, violet, magenta or lilac.


What Is Hex Color Code Notation?

Hex color notation is a standard digital organization system that covers the full spectrum of available colors and palettes. This system identifies different color and hue variations with a combination of numbers and letters following a hashtag (#).

Hex code (short for hexadecimal code) formats provide more user-friendly values for pixel color appearing on a display screen than binary values with ones and zeros.


Due to this simplicity, it became the go-to for hypertext markup language (HTML) color formats which specify hue, saturation and lightness. RGBA or HSLA is this same concept, adding an alpha channel for opacity.

How Many Hex Color Codes Are There?

The RGB color model uses 8 bits each, ranging from 0 to 23, to create red, green and blue on a digital screen display. These colors range between 256 levels of light that fall between 0 and 100 percent.

These three primary colors, therefore, combine to create over 16.7 million possible values for a range of pixels with unique hues visible to the human eye.