Image Processing Toolbox    

RGB Images

An RGB image, sometimes referred to as a truecolor image, is stored in MATLAB as an m-by-n-by-3 data array that defines red, green, and blue color components for each individual pixel. RGB images do not use a palette. The color of each pixel is determined by the combination of the red, green, and blue intensities stored in each color plane at the pixel's location. Graphics file formats store RGB images as 24-bit images, where the red, green, and blue components are 8 bits each. This yields a potential of 16 million colors. The precision with which a real-life image can be replicated has led to the commonly used term truecolor image.

An RGB MATLAB array can be of class double, uint8, or uint16. In an RGB array of class double, each color component is a value between 0 and 1. A pixel whose color components are (0,0,0) displays as black, and a pixel whose color components are (1,1,1) displays as white. The three color components for each pixel are stored along the third dimension of the data array. For example, the red, green, and blue color components of the pixel (10,5) are stored in RGB(10,5,1), RGB(10,5,2), and RGB(10,5,3), respectively.

Figure 2-4 depicts an RGB image of class double.

Figure 2-4: The Color Planes of an RGB Image

To determine the color of the pixel at (2,3), you would look at the RGB triplet stored in (2,3,1:3). Suppose (2,3,1) contains the value 0.5176, (2,3,2) contains 0.1608, and (2,3,3) contains 0.0627. The color for the pixel at (2,3) is

To further illustrate the concept of the three separate color planes used in an RGB image, the code sample below creates a simple RGB image containing uninterrupted areas of red, green, and blue, and then creates one image for each of its separate color planes (red, green, and blue). It displays each color plane image separately, and also displays the original image.

Figure 2-5: The Separated Color Planes of an RGB Image

Notice that each separated color plane in the figure contains an area of white. The white corresponds to the highest values (purest shades) of each separate color. For example, in the Red Plane image, the white represents the highest concentration of pure red values. As red becomes mixed with green or blue, gray pixels appear. The black region in the image shows pixel values that contain no red values, i.e., R == 0.

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