Last updated
Spectral coordinates
Wavelength 490–520 nm
Frequency 610–575 THz
Common connotations
water [1] [2] [3]
Gtk-dialog-info.svg    Color coordinates
Hex triplet #00FFFF
sRGB B  (r,  g,  b)(0, 255, 255)
CMYK H  (c, m, y, k)(100, 0, 0, 0)
HSV     (h, s, v)(180°, 100%, 100%)
Source CSS Color Module Level 3
B: Normalized to [0–255] (byte)
H: Normalized to [0–100] (hundred)

Cyan ( /ˈs.ən/ , /ˈs.æn/ ) [4] [5] is a greenish-blue color. [6] [7] It is evoked by light with a predominant wavelength of between 490520 nm, between the wavelengths of green and blue. [8]

The nanometre or nanometer is a unit of length in the metric system, equal to one billionth of a metre. The name combines the SI prefix nano- with the parent unit name metre. It can be written in scientific notation as 1×10−9 m, in engineering notation as 1 E−9 m, and as simply 1/1000000000 metres. One nanometre equals ten ångströms. When used as a prefix for something other than a unit of measure, nano refers to nanotechnology, or phenomena typically occurring on a scale of nanometres.

Green color; additive primary color; visible between blue and yellow

Green is the color between blue and yellow on the visible spectrum. It is evoked by light which has a dominant wavelength of roughly 495–570 nm. In subtractive color systems, used in painting and color printing, it is created by a combination of yellow and blue, or yellow and cyan; in the RGB color model, used on television and computer screens, it is one of the additive primary colors, along with red and blue, which are mixed in different combinations to create all other colors. By far the largest contributor to green in nature is chlorophyll, the chemical by which plants photosynthesize and convert sunlight into chemical energy. Many creatures have adapted to their green environments by taking on a green hue themselves as camouflage. Several minerals have a green color, including the emerald, which is colored green by its chromium content.

Blue A primary colour between purple and green

Blue is one of the three primary colours of pigments in painting and traditional colour theory, as well as in the RGB colour model. It lies between violet and green on the spectrum of visible light. The eye perceives blue when observing light with a dominant wavelength between approximately 450 and 495 nanometres. Most blues contain a slight mixture of other colours; azure contains some green, while ultramarine contains some violet. The clear daytime sky and the deep sea appear blue because of an optical effect known as Rayleigh scattering. An optical effect called Tyndall scattering explains blue eyes. Distant objects appear more blue because of another optical effect called aerial perspective.


In the subtractive color system, or CMYK (subtractive), which can be overlaid to produce all colors in paint and color printing, cyan is one of the primary colors, along with magenta, yellow, and black. In the additive color system, or RGB (additive) color model, used to create all the colors on a computer or television display, cyan is made by mixing equal amounts of green and blue light. Cyan is the complement of red; it can be made by the removal of red from white light. Mixing red light and cyan light at the right intensity will make white light.

Subtractive color mixing of paints, dyes, inks, and natural colorants

Subtractive color, or "subtractive color mixing", predicts the spectral power distribution of light after it passes through successive layers of partially absorbing media. This idealized model is the essential principle of how dyes and inks are used in color printing and photography where the perception of color is elicited after white light passes through microscopic "stacks" of partially absorbing media allowing some wavelengths of light to reach the eye and not others.

CMYK color model subtractive color model, used in color printing

The CMYK color model is a subtractive color model, used in color printing, and is also used to describe the printing process itself. CMYK refers to the four inks used in some color printing: cyan, magenta, yellow, and key.

Magenta color visible between red and purple; subtractive (CMY) primary color

Magenta is a color that is variously defined as purplish-red, reddish-purple, purplish, or mauvish-crimson. In the RGB color model, it is made by mixing equal amounts of blue and red. On color wheels of the RGB (additive) and CMY (subtractive) color models, it is located midway between red and blue. It is the complementary color of green. It is one of the four colors of ink used in color printing by an inkjet printer, along with yellow, black, and cyan, to make all the other colors. The tone of magenta used in printing is called "printer's magenta".

The web color cyan is synonymous with aqua. Other colors in the cyan color range are teal, turquoise, electric blue, aquamarine, and others described as blue-green.

Web colors are colors used in displaying web pages on the World Wide Web, and the methods for describing and specifying those colors. Colors may be specified as an RGB triplet or in hexadecimal format or according to their common English names in some cases. A color tool or other graphics software is often used to generate color values. In some uses, hexadecimal color codes are specified with notation using a leading number sign (#). A color is specified according to the intensity of its red, green and blue components, each represented by eight bits. Thus, there are 24 bits used to specify a web color within the sRGB gamut, and 16,777,216 colors that may be so specified.

Aqua is a greenish-blue color, a variation of the color cyan. The web color aqua is identical to the web color cyan, also sometimes called electric cyan, one of the three secondary colors of the RGB color model used on computer and television displays. In the HSV color wheel aqua is precisely halfway between blue and green. However, aqua is not the same as the primary subtractive color process cyan used in printing.

Turquoise is a blue/green color, based on the gem of the same name. The word turquoise comes from the French for "Turkish", as the gem was originally imported from Turkey. The first recorded use of turquoise as a color name in English was in 1573.

RGB color model additive color model based on combining red, green, and blue

The RGB color model is an additive color model in which red, green and blue light are added together in various ways to reproduce a broad array of colors. The name of the model comes from the initials of the three additive primary colors, red, green, and blue.

Yellow color

Yellow is the color between orange and green on the spectrum of visible light. It is evoked by light with a dominant wavelength of roughly 570–590 nm. It is a primary color in subtractive color systems, used in painting or color printing. In the RGB color model, used to create colors on television and computer screens, yellow is a secondary color made by combining red and green at equal intensity. Carotenoids give the characteristic yellow color to autumn leaves, corn, canaries, daffodils, and lemons, as well as egg yolks, buttercups, and bananas. They absorb light energy and protect plants from photodamage. Sunlight has a slight yellowish hue, due to the surface temperature of the sun.

Samarkand Place in Samarqand Region, Uzbekistan

Samarkand, alternatively Samarqand, is a city in modern-day Uzbekistan, and is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Central Asia. There is evidence of human activity in the area of the city from the late Paleolithic era, though there is no direct evidence of when Samarkand was founded; some theories propose that it was founded between the 8th and 7th centuries BC. Prospering from its location on the Silk Road between China and the Mediterranean, at times Samarkand was one of the greatest cities of Central Asia.


Its name is derived from the Ancient Greek κύανος, transliterated kyanos, meaning "dark blue, dark blue enamel, Lapis lazuli". [10] [11] It was formerly known as "cyan blue" [12] or cyan-blue, [13] and its first recorded use as a color name in English was in 1879. [14] Further origins of the color name can be traced back to a dye produced from the cornflower (Centaurea cyanus). [15] [16]

Ancient Greek Version of the Greek language used from roughly the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE

The Ancient Greek language includes the forms of Greek used in Ancient Greece and the ancient world from around the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE. It is often roughly divided into the Archaic period, Classical period, and Hellenistic period. It is antedated in the second millennium BCE by Mycenaean Greek and succeeded by medieval Greek.

Romanization of Greek is the transliteration (letter-mapping) or transcription (sound-mapping) of text from the Greek alphabet into the Latin alphabet. The conventions for writing and romanizing Ancient Greek and Modern Greek differ markedly, which can create confusion. The sound of the English letter B was written as β in ancient Greek but is now written as the digraph μπ, while the modern β sounds like the English letter V instead. The Greek name Ἰωάννης became Johannes in Latin and then John in English, but in Greek itself has instead become Γιάννης; this might be written as Yannis, Jani, Ioannis, Yiannis, or Giannis, but not Giannes or Giannēs as it would have been in ancient Greek. The masculine Greek word Ἅγιος or Άγιος might variously appear as Hagiοs, Agios, Aghios, or Ayios, or simply be translated as "Holy" or "Saint" in English forms of Greek placenames.

Lapis lazuli A contact metamorphic rock containing lazurite, pyrite and calcite

Lapis lazuli, or lapis for short, is a deep blue metamorphic rock used as a semi-precious stone that has been prized since antiquity for its intense color. As early as the 7th millennium BCE, lapis lazuli was mined in the Sar-i Sang mines, in Shortugai, and in other mines in Badakhshan province in northeast Afghanistan. Lapis was highly valued by the Indus Valley Civilisation. Lapis beads have been found at Neolithic burials in Mehrgarh, the Caucasus, and even as far from Afghanistan as Mauritania. It was used in the funeral mask of Tutankhamun.

In most languages, 'cyan' is not a basic color term and it phenomenologically appears as a greenish vibrant hue of blue to most English speakers. Reasons for why cyan is not linguistically acknowledged as a basic color term can be found in the frequent lack of distinction between blue and green in many languages.

Color term word or phrase that refers to a specific color

A color term is a word or phrase that refers to a specific color. The color term may refer to human perception of that color which is usually defined according to the Munsell color system, or to an underlying physical property. There are also numerical systems of color specification, referred to as color spaces.

Hue Property of a color indicating balance of color perceived by the normal human eye

Hue is one of the main properties of a color, defined technically, as "the degree to which a stimulus can be described as similar to or different from stimuli that are described as red, green, blue, and yellow",. Hue can typically be represented quantitatively by a single number, often corresponding to an angular position around a central or neutral point or axis on a colorspace coordinate diagram or color wheel, or by its dominant wavelength or that of its complementary color. The other color appearance parameters are colorfulness, saturation, lightness, and brightness.

Many languages do not distinguish between what in English are described as "blue" and "green" and instead use a cover term spanning both. To describe this English lexical gap, linguists use the portmanteau word grue, from green and blue, which the philosopher Nelson Goodman coined in his 1955 Fact, Fiction, and Forecast to illustrate the "new riddle of induction".

Cyan on the web and in printing

The web colors cyan and aqua

Cyan (additive secondary)
Gtk-dialog-info.svg    Color coordinates
Hex triplet #00FFFF
sRGB B  (r,  g,  b)(0, 255, 255)
CMYK H  (c, m, y, k)(100, 0, 0, 0)
HSV     (h, s, v)(180°, 100%, 100%)
Source X11
B: Normalized to [0–255] (byte)
H: Normalized to [0–100] (hundred)

The web color cyan shown at right is a secondary color in the RGB color model, which uses combinations of red, green and blue light to create all the colors on computer and television displays. In X11 colors, this color is called both cyan and aqua. In the HTML color list, this same color is called aqua.

The web colors are more vivid than the cyan used in the CMYK color system, and the web colors cannot be accurately reproduced on a printed page. To reproduce the web color cyan in inks, it is necessary to add some white ink to the printer's cyan below, so when it is reproduced in printing, it is not a primary subtractive color. It is called aqua (a name in use since 1598) because it is a color commonly associated with water, such as the appearance of the water at a tropical beach. [17]

Process cyan (pigment cyan) (printer's cyan)

Cyan (subtractive primary)
Gtk-dialog-info.svg    Color coordinates
Hex triplet #00B7EB
sRGB B  (r,  g,  b)(0, 183, 235)
CMYK H  (c, m, y, k)(100, 22, 0, 8)
HSV     (h, s, v)(193°, 100%, 92 [18] %)
SourceCMYK [19]
B: Normalized to [0–255] (byte)
H: Normalized to [0–100] (hundred)

Cyan is also one of the common inks used in four-color printing, along with magenta, yellow, and black; this set of colors is referred to as CMYK as in spectrum(s).

While both the additive secondary and the subtractive primary are called cyan, they can be substantially different from one another. Cyan printing ink can be more saturated or less saturated than the RGB secondary cyan, depending on what RGB color space and ink are considered.

Process cyan is not an RGB color, and there is no fixed conversion from CMYK primaries to RGB. Different formulations are used for printer's ink, so there can be variations in the printed color that is pure cyan ink. This is because real-world subtractive (unlike additive) color mixing does not consistently produce the same result when mixing apparently identical colors, since the specific frequencies filtered out to produce that color affect how it interacts with other colors. Phthalocyanine blue is one such commonly used pigment. A typical formulation of process cyan is shown in the color box at right.

In science and nature

Color of water

Cyan and cyanide




Photography and film


Surgeons' gowns

See also

Related Research Articles

Primary color Sets of colors that can be combined to make a useful range of colors

A set of primary colors is, most tangibly, a set of real colorants or colored lights that can be combined in varying amounts to produce a gamut of colors. This is the essential method used in applications that are intended to elicit the perception of diverse sets of color, e.g. electronic displays, color printing, and paintings. Perceptions associated with a given combination of primary colors are predicted by applying the appropriate mixing model that embodies the underlying physics of how light interacts with the media and ultimately the retina.

Additive color the situation where color is created by mixing the visible light emitted from differently colored light sources

Additive color, or "additive mixing", is a property of a color model that predicts the appearance of colors made by coincident component lights with distinct colors, i.e. the perceived color can be predicted by summing the numeric representations of the component colors. Modern formulations of Grassmann's Laws describe the additivity in the color perception of light mixtures in terms of algebraic equations. It is important note that additive color predicts perception and not any sort of change in the photons of light themselves. These predictions are only applicable in the limited scope of color matching experiments where viewers match small patches of uniform color isolated against a grey or black background.

Complementary colors pairs of colors which, when combined, cancel each other out

Complementary colors are pairs of colors which, when combined or mixed, cancel each other out by producing a grayscale color like white or black. When placed next to each other, they create the strongest contrast for those two colors. Complementary colors may also be called "opposite colors."

Gamut color reproduction

In color reproduction, including computer graphics and photography, the gamut, or color gamut, is a certain complete subset of colors. The most common usage refers to the subset of colors which can be accurately represented in a given circumstance, such as within a given color space or by a certain output device.

In the visual arts, color theory or colour theory is a body of practical guidance to color mixing and the visual effects of a specific color combination. There are also definitions of colors based on the color wheel: primary color, secondary color, and tertiary color. Although color theory principles first appeared in the writings of Leone Battista Alberti and the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, a tradition of "colory theory" began in the 18th century, initially within a partisan controversy over Isaac Newton's theory of color and the nature of primary colors. From there it developed as an independent artistic tradition with only superficial reference to colorimetry and vision science.

Index of color-related articles Wikimedia list article

This is a list of color topic-related articles.

RYB color model historical set of colors

RYB denotes the use of red, yellow, and blue pigments as primary colors in art and design, particularly painting.

Color printing or colour printing is the reproduction of an image or text in color. Any natural scene or color photograph can be optically and physiologically dissected into three primary colors, red, green and blue, roughly equal amounts of which give rise to the perception of white, and different proportions of which give rise to the visual sensations of all other colors. The additive combination of any two primary colors in roughly equal proportion gives rise to the perception of a secondary color. For example, red and green yields yellow, red and blue yields magenta, and green and blue yield cyan. Only yellow is counter-intuitive. Yellow, cyan and magenta are merely the "basic" secondary colors: unequal mixtures of the primaries give rise to perception of many other colors all of which may be considered "tertiary."

A secondary color is a color made by mixing of two primary colors in a given color space.

Tertiary color color made by mixing either one primary color with one secondary color

A tertiary color or intermediate color is a color made by mixing full saturation of one primary color with half saturation of another primary color and none of a third primary color, in a color space such as RGB, CMYK or RYB (traditional).

Color mixing

There are two types of color mixing: Additive and Subtractive. In both cases, there are three primary colors, three secondary colors, and one tertiary color made from all three primary colors. This point is a common source of confusion, as there are different sets of primary colors depending on whether you are working with additive or subtractive mixing.

Shades of magenta

This article is about notable tints and shades of the color magenta. These various colors are shown below.

Color space standard that defines a specific range of colors

A color space is a specific organization of colors. In combination with physical device profiling, it allows for reproducible representations of color, in both analog and digital representations. A color space may be arbitrary, with particular colors assigned to a set of physical color swatches and corresponding assigned color names or numbers such as with the Pantone collection, or structured mathematically as with the NCS System, Adobe RGB and sRGB. A "color model" is an abstract mathematical model describing the way colors can be represented as tuples of numbers ; however, a color model with no associated mapping function to an absolute color space is a more or less arbitrary color system with no connection to any globally understood system of color interpretation. Adding a specific mapping function between a color model and a reference color space establishes within the reference color space a definite "footprint", known as a gamut, and for a given color model this defines a color space. For example, Adobe RGB and sRGB are two different absolute color spaces, both based on the RGB color model. When defining a color space, the usual reference standard is the CIELAB or CIEXYZ color spaces, which were specifically designed to encompass all colors the average human can see.

Shades of cyan

This article is about notable tints and shades of the color cyan, a greenish blue. Cyan is one of the subtractive primary colors- cyan, magenta, and yellow.


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