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Hexadecimal Colors

Red, Green and Blue

Hexadecimal numbers are used on web pages to specify colors. The color is defined by its mix of Red, Green and Blue, each of which can be in the range:

0 to 255 (in decimal) , or
00 to FF (in hexadecimal)

It is based on the idea that any color can be made by mixing Red, Green and Blue, and so it is called the "RGB Color System". It is also classified as an "Additive" color system, because it starts at black, and then color is added.

Color Mixer

Try mixing your own colors below to see how it works (you can also type values into the hexadecimal or decimal boxes):

Hexadecimals

Hexadecimal numbers are "natural" to computers, because computers store and handle binary digits, and four binary digits make one hexadecimal digit (see Binary Digits):

Decimal: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Binary: 0 1 10 11 100 101 110 111 1000 1001 1010 1011 1100 1101 1110 1111
Hexadecimal: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F

Two Hexadecimal digits together (called a "byte" in computer terminology) can represent 16×16=256 different levels of color.

16 Million Colors

Because each of the three colors can have values from 0 to 255 (256 possible values), there are 256×256×256 = 2563 = 16,777,216 possible color combinations (and this is why you see claims of "16 Million Colors" on computer equipment)

Web Format

The format ("notation") used on web pages is #RRGGBB, where RR specifies the value of the Red component of the color (using two hexadecimal digits), GG the Green component and BB the Blue component.

Example: a shade of blue is made up of:

  • 64/255 Red,
  • 48/255 Green
  • 255/255 (ie full) Blue

So it is (64,48,255) in decimal, which is equivalent to (40,30,FF) in hexadecimal and would be coded as #4030FF.

This may help you remember:

Roses are #FF0000
Violets are #0000FF
And don't forgot
Grass is #00FF00, too

Some Common Colors

Color Decimal
(Red, Green, Blue)
Hexadecimal
(#RRGGBB)
Black (0, 0, 0) #000000
White (255, 255, 255) #FFFFFF
Red (255, 0, 0) #FF0000
Green (0, 255, 0) #00FF00
Blue (0, 0, 255) #0000FF
Yellow (255, 255, 0) #FFFF00
Cyan (0, 255, 255) #00FFFF
Magenta (255, 0, 255) #FF00FF

I have also compiled a much longer list of Hexadecimal Colors and their Names.

Try entering the hexadecimal code into the color mixer above, and see what you get (you can copy, then right-click the hexadecimal box, and select "paste").