News | 5 November 2021

RGB vs CMYK

Lets talk colour...

Colour is very important in all aspects of design. There are two main colour models which we use when designing either for print, or for screen, RGB and CMYK. In this blog post we will go through and explain the two.

In primary school you learnt about the three primary colours, Red, Yellow and Blue. These three colours are mixed in various ways to create a gamut of different colours. Well this is very similar to what we use in graphic design. Instead of having three primary colours, we have two basic colour spaces.

  • RGB - Red, Green, Blue
  • CMYK - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (Key)

The difference between the two colour ways is that RGB is an additive colour mode and CMYK is a subtractive. What this means is that in RGB when you add the colours together you get white, CMYK on the other-hand is different whereby white only exists when the colours are visible.

These colour modes are very important when it comes to graphic design and how you use them, here's why:

  • Digital displays such as your TV or phone use additive colours, so RGB. They create approximately 16.77 million colours using only red, green and blue pixels at varying intensities. If viewing a digital monitor through a magnifying glass, you will see that all the pixels are either red, green or blue. The bright white light that gets emitted through the screen blends all three colours together, which causes the eye to create a wide range of other colours.
  • Printed items such as your magazines/business cards, use subtractive colours, so CMYK. Cyan, magenta, yellow and black dots are used to create over 16 thousand colours. (Quite a big difference to how many RGB make). CMYK mode is best for printing. The CMYK subtracts colours from the natural white light and turns them into different pigments. Printers then use these pigments on paper in tiny colour dots. The layout used determines what colour is printed.

Colour modes in design are very important. RGB will always produce brighter colours then CMYK. If you want the colours used on your website on your business cards they may be a little duller then what you see on screen when you get them printed. It is good to have these colour modes in the back of your mind for when it comes to getting business cards printed for your business (even if you aren't a designer by trade). 

If you thinking about getting business stationery printed for your business, give a call today, we would be happy to help you with that.

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