Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Truecolour (or Truecolor, Millions on a Macintosh) graphics is a method of storing image information in a computer's memory such that each pixel is represented by three or more bytes. The bits are divided into values for the Red, Green, and Blue components of the final colour, like this:
Bit 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 09 08 07 06 05 04 03 02 01 00 Data R R R R R R R R G G G G G G G G B B B B B B B B
Each of the RGB components has 8 bits associated, giving 256 intensities of each hue. This allows 16,777,216 (16.7 M) possible colours for each pixel. The reason this is called truecolour is that this is around the number of colours the human eye is able to detect.
Truecolour images are sometimes represented by a 32-bit value. The 8 extra bits normally don't enhance the precision of the color representation per se, but act as an alpha channel that represents the pixel's translucency. As CPU and graphics card power has increased over the last few years, 32 bit truecolour has become popular on the computer desktop to provide effects such as translucent windows, fading menus, and shadows. Often, however, the 8 extra bits are not used at all; 32 bits are chosen instead of 24 because many computers can operate with 32-bit chunks of data faster, and the unused 8 bits are simply ignored.
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