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What the hex goin' on here?
by: Ben Gordon
When editing an HTML document or graphic image for the Internet, you may encounter a color code similar to #FFFFFF. You can easily manipulate a sequence like this with a web palette or image-editing software. But by examining it more closely, you can gain valuable insight into the displays generated by electronic media such as computers and televisions.

In the traditional analysis you're probably familiar with, red, blue, and yellow are considered "primary" because no other colors are used to create them. "Additive" colors result from some combination of these. For example, purple is produced by mixing red and blue.

Electronic media, on the other hand, work with light, not paint. The visible spectrum ranges from red (infrared) to green to blue (ultraviolet). In the same way a prism separates the rainbow of colors, a computer screen can break down and display the component parts of white light. In a process known as subtractive synthesis, a color is created by removing its complement.

In a six-character color code, the first two figures indicate the amount of red present, the second two are a measure of green, and the final two describe a level of blue. These codes employ a hexadecimal numerical scheme, wherein the letters A through F account for the final six increments. Looking at the example offered above, the designation #FFFFFF indicates that red, green, and blue are all fully present, and therefore white is displayed. At the other extreme, #000000 denotes black; no color is exhibited.

For instance #FFFF00 would represent yellow. Notice the red and the green are at full tilt. There is no blue. By mashing the red and green up against each other, the red cancels out the blue and all that is left is the yellow. It's actually a subtractive color method being employed in an additive world.

Another example can be DC143C. This code creates a shade of red called "crimson." The red setting, DC, is pretty intense. There's not much green. Blue is set a little less than halfway up. As you can see easily hexadecimal code is just about adjusting the right hue. Considering the 3 different colors with, 00 to FF, 256 different hues; we end up with 256-3 different colors which explain our 64 bit representation of colors.

So the next time you’re in need of riveting conversation, you can bring up your new knowledge about Hex codes for colors.

About the author:
Ben Gordon currently writes at several web coding/development forums and lists, including one he co-owns with other members of a web development team at He is presently promoting a new reprint article directory assist webmasters with the difficult task of finding fresh content for their websites.

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