Subtractive Color

Subtractive Color

Author: Nancy Esslinger

In this lesson, you will learn how to recognize and explain subtractive color and its uses in visual communications.

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Notes on "Subtractive Color"


1. Example of color pigment, wikipedia


2. Four Color Process Model, wikipedia


3. Pantone Matching System; wikimedia


4. Example of Pantone Matching System, National Geographic yellow rectangle, creative commons


5. Example of Pantone Matching System, McDonald’s yellow M; creative commons


6. Example of four color process, Alice in Wonderland image; zorger.com, public domain


7. Example of four color process, Georgia magazine cover; wikipedia


Terms to Know
  • CMYK

    stands for the ink colors of cyan, magenta, yellow and black; These inks are what is known as "four color process" in the commercial printing industry. They are mixed on the printed page to produce the illusion of full color.

  • PMS

    stands for Pantone Matching System [tm]; This system is used in the commercial printing industry to specify, match and mix flat color inks.

  • Pigment 

    coloring matter, usually powdered, mixed with a liquid base in order to produce paint or ink.

  • Subtractive Color Process

    the mixing of color with pigment; subtractive color is seen when light is absorbed or reflected by pigment.