THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RGB AND CMYK

February 14, 2016 Design 0 Comments

Here at theroom, we pride ourselves in making the design process as seamless, inclusive and understanding as possible. That also includes clearing up the common questions you’re too afraid to ask your design team, inclusive of the acronym dilemma of 2016: CMYK and RGB. We’ve compiled the basics of what you need to know about these terms and if you are still questioning if this applies to you, let us explain to you why it certainly does.

What is the difference?

The two primary colour modes you will encounter during your design journey are RGB and CMYK. RGB signifies the colours Red-Green-Blue, which references the colour of the light emitted from the electronic device at question, whether that is a computer screen, digital camera or mobile phone. While this mode is electronic based, the four colour mode CMYK relates to printing. CMYK encompasses the colours Cyan-Magenta-Yellow-Black, which are the colours of the ink used in the offset printing process. This mode is used primarily for when sending a design to print.

How does it work?

Very simply, RGB is what many clued in professionals call additive, whilst CMYK is subtractive. RGB is referred to as additive owing to white light being made once all the colours are added together. Dissimilarly, when you turn off all three lights you will have black. However, when mixed together at different levels, you are able to create the colour wheel (and much more) in detail.

For CMYK, or the subtractive colour model, when you combine all three colours (CMY) together, you will have a colour that is very close to black. However when removing these colours you will have white, which is essentially the white of the paper. The fourth colour, black (titled K to avoid potential confusion with Blue), is incorporated for practicality, this being to have a solid black colour. Similar to the RGB mode, when mixing the four colours to varying degrees you can create a vast collection of other colours that stem from these.

What does this mean for me?

With most colours on your RGB monitor able to be mimicked using CMYK inks, it is important to note there still may be some discrepancies in the printing process. Due to the nature of electronic screens, the colours could appear slightly different depending on brightness and contrast levels you have set. Whilst neither system of colour is perfect and unable to produce all the available colours we see, both do work in conveying realism to the human eye. It is, however beneficial for you to become aware of the purpose of both colour modes, to avoid your print design,  whether that be catalogue, brochure, styleguide or even your annual report being affected by the colour mode you have set for that particular design.

theroom specialise in quality printing services and ensure that the work we send to print reflects the great work that you do as a company, or as an individual. Drop us a line to learn more about what we can offer you, or instead, visit our contact us page to email us your enquiry.