CIE Color Model

What Does CIE Color Model Mean?

The CIE color model is a color space model created by the International Commission on Illumination known as the Commission Internationale de l’Elcairage (CIE). It is also known as the CIE XYZ color space or the CIE 1931 XYZ color space.


The CIE color model is a mapping system that uses tristimulus (a combination of 3 color values that are close to red/green/blue) values, which are plotted on a 3D space. When these values are combined, they can reproduce any color that a human eye can perceive. The CIE specification is supposed to be able to accurately represent every single color the human eye can perceive.

Techopedia Explains CIE Color Model

The CIE color space was created back in 1931 in order to map out all the colors that can be perceived by the human eye. It was made independent of any technology that may present colors, which is why it is considered to be the most accurate color model. The CIE Color model is a three-dimensional model that takes account of the chromatic response of the eye; a response which changes as the cones across the retina differ in their reaction to light and color in different areas of the retina.

The CIE color space was the result of a series of experiments done in the 1920s by John Guild and W. David Wright, which led to the development of a model that was completely independent of any means of reproduction by any device as it is based very closely to how humans perceive color. As a result, the CIE color model is unsuitable for use with many technologies, including monitors and printers, although it is widely considered the most accurate color model.


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Margaret Rouse
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Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.