What you’ll quickly realize in the world if photography is that regardless of how well you understand camera and lighting mechanics, how pristine and natural you can make skin look in Photoshop, or if you develop a print in the darkroom with the best of them, the world of print and printing is cleverer still.

I can count one one hand how many photographers I know who truly understand the intricacies of printing from the basics of interpolation to color management at all levels. Printing is a science as much as it is an art. One of the things quickly introduced to those in print is the initialism CMYK, a subtractive color model (each color subtracts brightness from white – whereas RGB is additive as each color adds brightness from dark. RGB is used for light reflection and CMYK for absorption), and it’s often difficult to visualize how it works. That said, here’s a gif that demonstrates it beautifully.

Found on the Instagram page Physicsfun and now doing the rounds on Twitter and Facebook, it’s a demonstration using acrylic slides–that are actually coasters–that reveal a ‘properly’ colored representation of Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring”.

[REWIND: A Breakdown Of Color Spaces | You Really Should Have A Grasp On This]

AS you watch it it’s good to keep in mind what CMYK is and how it’s applied. CMYK is an initialism for Cyan Magenta Yellow Key (black). It refers to a subtractive color model, and process itself, of color printing. The K stands for Key, and represents black as the CMY colored plates are aligned with the black Key plate. This stems from old printing processes. And though this does vary depending on the company, the colors are usually applied in the order of the initialism – you’ll notice in the GIF it’s applied in reverse order, but it works.

In an age where print revival is very much here, it’s good to see. You can check out more from Physicsfun here, and if you want the coasters (as I do) check it out here.