A brief history of Magenta

At DayGlo we make Corona Magenta, a fluorescent magenta, magenta with some spice to it, if you will. However, we were wondering – what is the history of the color magenta? Printers use CMYK colors, the M being Magenta, so how did that come to be?

Magenta is a purple-red hue. It was patented in 1859 by the French chemist François-Emmanuel Verguin, who originally called it fuchsine. Magenta is definitely a better name, so thankfully it was renamed in celebration of the victory of the Battle of Magenta between the Italians and the French.

But, did you know that Magenta isn’t actually a color on the color spectrum? When our brain sees red and violet, it combines the two to create a color in between them. This color is Magenta.

We mentioned previously that in print, magenta is a star, being part of the CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow & Key) colors. CMYK color is subtractive, meaning that as ink is added to white paper, it masks more of the white light reducing the amount of white light reflected. Magenta is used as one of these colors because it is an overlap of red and blue.

It’s also part of the web colors (RGB), being one of three secondary colors in this model. RGB doesn’t play nice with fluorescent color, unfortunately, because it’s an additive color model. Light is added to create the colors, as more color is added the colors become lighter, eventually becoming white. You can get close to a fluorescent color on screen, but to print it would need to be converted to CMYK.

How does one get to the color space that is Corona Magenta, though? In print, to get a true fluorescent magenta, spot color would need to be used. Corona Magenta would be Pantone 807!

That’s the magic that is magenta. Everywhere you look you should be able to find a variation of it, but we prefer the fluorescent version ourselves (obviously!).