Physical basis

Pigments appear the colors they are because they selectively reflect and absorb certain wavelengths of visible light. White light is a roughly equal mixture of the entire spectrum of visible light with a wavelength in a range from about 375 or 400 nanometers to about 760 or 780 nm. When this light encounters a pigment, parts of the spectrum are absorbed by the chemical bonds of conjugated systems and other components of the pigment. Some other wavelengths or parts of the spectrum are reflected or scattered. Most pigments are charge-transfer complexes, like transition metal compounds, with broad absorption bands that subtract most of the colors of the incident white light. The new reflected light spectrum creates the appearance of a color. Ultramarine reflects blue light, and absorbs other colors. Pigments, unlike fluorescent or phosphorescent substances, can only subtract wavelengths from the source light, never add new ones. The appearance of pigments is intimately connected to the color of the source light. Sunlight has a high color temperature, and a fairly uniform spectrum, and is considered a standard for white light. Artificial light sources tend to have great peaks in some parts of their spectrum, and deep valleys in others. Viewed under these conditions, pigments will appear different colors. Color spaces used to represent colors numerically must specify their light source. Lab color measurements, unless otherwise noted, assume that the measurement was taken under a D65 light source, or "Daylight 6500 K", which is roughly the color temperature of sunlight. Sunlight encounters Rosco R80 "Primary Blue" igment. The product of the source spectrum and the reflectance spectrum of the pigment results in the final spectrum, and the appearance of blue. Other properties of a color, such as its saturation or lightness, may be determined by the other substances that accompany pigments. Binders and fillers added to pure pigment chemicals also have their own reflection and absorption patterns, which can affect the final spectrum. Likewise, in pigment/binder mixtures, individual rays of light may not encounter pigment molecules, and may be reflected as is. These stray rays of source light contribute to the saturation of the color. Pure pigment allows very little white light to escape, producing a highly saturated color. A small quantity of pigment mixed with a lot of white binder, however, will appear desaturated and pale, due to the high quantity of escaping white light. Visible light (commonly referred to simply as light) is electromagnetic radiation that is visible to the human eye, and is responsible for the sense of sight.[1] Visible light has a wavelength in the range of about 380 nanometres to about 740 nm Ц between the invisible infrared, with longer wavelengths and the invisible ultraviolet, with shorter wavelengths. Primary properties of visible light are intensity, propagation direction, frequency or wavelength spectrum, and polarisation, while its speed in a vacuum, 299,792,458 meters per second (about 300,000 kilometers per second), is one of the fundamental constants of nature. Visible light, as with all types of electromagnetic radiation (EMR), is experimentally found to always move at this speed in vacuum.