We recently discussed at length the shadow mask method in CRT monitors. At the beginning of that article, we mentioned that there are two common methods used to produce colors and images on monitors and screens; Beam Penetration and Shadow Mask. In this post, we will examine the difference between the two in depth, covering the colors produced, color dependency, number of electron guns used, picture quality, realistic view, resolution, cost, and applications for each. Let’s get started.

The Difference Between Beam Penetration and Shadow Mask

Beam Penetration Method

Beam Penetration Method is similar to the normal CRT and utilizes only one electron gun. In this, different colors are coated on an inner surface on the screen in multiple layers; typically two layers of phosphorus, such as red and green are coated. This is a method used for displaying color pictures that has been used with random scan monitors.

Shadow Mask Method

Shadow Mask Method is used in raster scan systems. This included the majority of color TVs and computer monitors. In this method, each pixel is made up of three colors; red, green, and blue. Three electron guns are used, one for each color. The shadow mask filters out the correct color, and illuminates the pixel to create the image seen on screen.

Further Differences Between the Two Methods

Each of the aforementioned methods provide their own unique advantages and disadvantages. We’ll examine some of the major points to consider when deciding on beam penetration or shadow masking.

Colors Produced

In Beam Penetration, only four colors are possible to produce: red, green, yellow, and orange. With a shadow mask, millions of colors are able to be produced.

Color Dependency

Only four colors are produced in beam penetration due to the speed of the singular electron gun. Millions of colors are produced with the shadow mask method because it depends on the intensity of the three available electron guns.

Number of Electron Guns Used

Only one electron gun is used in beam penetration. Whereas in the shadow mask method, three electron guns are used to produce the millions of colors.

Picture Quality

Beam Penetration images tend to be on the poorer resolution side because of the lack of color variety, making shading impossible. Images produced by shadow masking are high quality because of the different colors available, and the ability to add shading.


Beam Penetration is not suitable for producing realistic images. However, images produced via the shadow mask method provide a much more realistic view.


Beam Penetration can provide higher resolution images than those produced by shadow masking. However, strides are being made via the shadow mask method to improve screen and image resolution.


Due to the lack of materials in manufacturer, beam penetration is a cheaper method than the shadow mask method. However, experienced shadow mask manufacturers are now able to produce shadow masks at scale at reduced costs.


Beam penetration method is used in random scan systems to display color. Shadow mask method is used in raster scan systems to display a wide variety of colors.

Citrogene: Shadow Mask Manufacturer

As one can see, Shadow Masks are a vital component in today’s monitors and television screens. When it comes to producing the ideal shadow mask for your specific needs, there’s only one shadow mask partner to consider: Citrogene. Our proprietary process allows us to create precise, customized, state-of-the-art shadow masks based on your needs. Contact us today to learn more.