As a graphic designer, especially working with print it pays to have a great foundation. And that means understanding not only the tools but the basics of the things you are working with like color.
With graphic design and printing today you have two main choices and you need to make the right one in each case.
So in this post we are going to look at the main differences between the two most often used color schemes.
What is RGB?
RGB quite simply stands for the colors red, green, and blue.
These colors are also known as the primary colors in design. And one of the first things you need to understand about RGB is that it is an additive model of color manipulation.
What does that mean? Well basically that the colors add up to create other colors.
This is done in most cases with light and in digital format. So various intensities of Red Green and Blue are used to construct (add) colors from these basic three colors.
This is quite fundamental to how all colors are constructed for digital media and worth understanding. It is also a difference range to what is possible with CMYK, so you need to choose the right one from the beginning.
What is CMYK?
CMYK is quite a bit different to RGB. The letters stand for the colors cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.
Unlike RGB’s additive model, CMYK is a subtractive model. Which is a little more complex to explain, but let’s give it a try.
Because we are talking about physical colors, like pigments and dyes, the light that falls onto them are actually absorbed, hence the “subtractive” idea.
When you print something, these colors are sprayed in dots onto the paper in various concentrations which has the effect of creating colors of varying intensities.
So What is the Difference?
Although both of these colors systems are not “perfect” the difference to us is almost undetectable, and you could say that it is realistic to the human eye.
One thing you do need to know though is that when you are working on digital products, that is ones that are not going to be printed, then you should be using the RGB settings in tools like photoshop.
However, if you are intending on printing something in any way shape or form, then you definitely need to choose CMYK otherwise the printed colors will be way off what you expected.
So make sure you choose the right one when you start any new project.
Hopefully this has given you an idea of the difference between the two color formats so that you can use the right one and understand what you are doing with graphics and printing.