What’s the Difference Between Print Colors (CMYK) and Digital Colors (RGB)?

What's the Difference Between Print Colors (CMYK) and Digital Colors (RGB)

We live in a world filled with gorgeous colors. When clients bring their creativity to us, we love taking their ideas and realizing them.

There are a number of details that can make or break any project. Graphics need to be represented as accurately as possible, so we need to appreciate the difference between CMYK vs. RGB color. 

What is CMYK?

The CMYK color model is a subtractive color model, used in color printing. The four letters stand for the colors cyan, magenta, yellow and key (black). The CMYK model is based on the days of press printing, when printing presses would have four plates of the four colors.

If printers are using a digital printing method, the color that is printed onto the paper is from CMYK colors. Because these four colors are subtractive, this means that each additional unique color needs more light to be removed or absorbed to create colors.

What is RGB?

When talking about RGB color schemes, these are the ones associated with electronic displays such as those found in digital cameras, scanners, and LCD monitors. This is an additive type of color mode, and combines the primary colors of red, green and blue to create a variety of colors.

When all three of the colors are combined and displayed to their fullest extent, the result is a pure white color. When combined to their lowest degree, the resulting color is black.

Photo editing programs always allow the use of RGB colors as these offer the widest range of colors.

How Do I Know Which Color Model to Use?

If you are creating a project that will only be seen digitally, then use RGB colors. The Internet is set up exclusively for RGB colors.

Pixels are comprised of three light units, one for blue, one for red and one for green. The RGB values are applied to these pixels on a screen, which in turn sets the brightness of each unit in each pixel.

If you will be printing something such as a business card or poster, use CMYK. CMYK color does not include a white color, because it is assumed that the printing will be done on white paper.

Depending on the percentage of each color used, more or less white from the paper will be allowed to show through, making shades appear lighter or darker.

There is no perfect interconnection between RGB and CMYK, but when a professional conversion takes place, there can be a very close match.

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What's the Difference Between Print Colors (CMYK) and Digital Colors (RGB)?
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What's the Difference Between Print Colors (CMYK) and Digital Colors (RGB)?
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We live in a world filled with gorgeous colors. When clients bring their creativity to us, we love taking their ideas and realizing them. There are a number of details that can make or break any project. Graphics need to be represented as accurately as possible, so we need to appreciate the difference between CMYK vs. RGB color.
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