What is the Difference Between RGB and CMYK

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.

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Stylish Fonts to Use in Graphic Design Prints

Graphic Design is all about fonts these days, and I have discovered quite a few cools fonts I want to share with you.

In the following post I will list the fonts I think are best and give you some examples of their use.

Take a look and see what you think of all of these cool fonts for you next print design project

Fonts To Impress

Let’s get started with my favorite cursive fonts.


A very curvy and formal font.


Berkshire Swash

A more rounded yet still very handy font

berkshire swash


Grand Hotel

What a great font for all purposes. Very readable too!




Used quite often, as it is found in a lot of online tools, this font is great for your next print!




One of my favorites. Thin yet stylish. Go nuts with this font.




So there you have 5 great cursive fonts for your next print design project!

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Designing for Print – What Tools and How

When doing graphic design, one of the biggest issues people face is deciding what tools to use and how to set them up for print in an ideal fashion.

As such, I decided to put together this small guide to show you how to do that without making the mistakes that most seem to make.

designing for print

What Program To Use For Design

There are in my opinion three main options when you are creating graphic designs for print. They are of course the Adobe suite of products:

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Adobe InDesign

Each application has it’s pluses and minuses, and sometimes it is just a matter of taste. But I recommend that you get to know each to a certain extent so that you can chop and change and also know what each is capable of when you need to create a specific design.


Photoshop is the ideal tool when it comes to raster based images.

It is great for manipulating photos or creating very visual and strong backgrounds for your graphics.


Illustrator is all about vectors. That means lines and curves. So it is perfect for creating logos and other very defined shapes in your artwork.

It can easily be used in combination with Photoshop, so if you create something in one, you can easily import it into the other program.


InDesign is all about publishing. That is what it was created for. It is perfect for laying out designs that have multiple pages, like a book or brochure.

Again you can use a combination of tools to create the item that is more easily done in each tool, and then move around between them all to leverage the power in each.

Working Document Size

One of the most fundamental decisions you need to make when working on any print project is the size of the resulting print. Before you get started with anything, make sure you know what it is going to be printed on and what exact size that will be. That could mean contacting the printer themselves to check (in cases where it varies) or knowing what kind of paper you are going to use exactly.

Although there is some room for flexibility, you are better of knowing in advance instead of messing with your design when it is too late.

Set The Right Color System

As you probably know, for print design you need to use CMYK instead of the commonly used RGB found in digital products. Be sure that you design in the right format or you could be in for some surprises when you get the final result at the printers.

What Format To Export Into

This depends in many cases on the printing company. It is best to ask them upfront what they requrie.

Sometimes it is safe to go with a CMYK Jpeg file, as that will give the best results for a print job. Other times they will ask for a PDF output, which helps keep the exact quality of the original.

Final Words

When it comes to print, it is best to plan ahead and know what kinds of articles you will be producing. Then find out what the printer expects and what formats you should be working with. This will save you a lot of headaches in the long run, I can tell you from experience.

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Why You Need A Printed Design Portfolio

Many young designers come to us with ideas and examples, but what many of them fail to realize is that they really need a printed portfolio of their own to present to schools, future employers or even customers.

So I decided to whip up a few ideas and examples to show these young whipper snappers what they need to do in order to impress. After all, first impressions count and having actual printed media is one of the best ways to do this.

Physical Design Portfolio

1. Physical Portfolios Last

Unlike online media portfolios, physical portfolios endure for a long time. They can be touched and played with. Looked at in different light. Put away and taken out again.

There are so many benefits to a physical portfolio, but that will do for starters.

2. You Are A Brand

These days with the online world presenting us with so many opportunities to shine, globally, you have to realize that you are a brand.
So the focal point of your portfolio should be physical examples of your work and a demonstration of the results you are able to create.

2. Physical Examples Show Your Best

Printed graphic design materials are a great way to make a bold impression. Although online media can pop, physical portfolios give the ability to you to create a big and varied impression on your customer. It even pays to use some of the latest design fonts as well.

3. Don’t Forget The Story

Story telling is far more powerful than people imagine. Just think back to a time when you were a child, and how you immersed yourself in bedtime stories or even books you were reading. That is not lost, but deep inside all of us.

So by using your printed portfolio as a way to tell your story, you can take advantage of the physical media and lay it out for the person in front of you.

4. But Don’t Forget Digital

Although we are focusing on the physical here, you should also have the ability to present some of your digital media too. Why not. Today a lot of media is in digital form, so people want to be able to see that you can do it all.

One way to do this is to bring along an iPad and show what you have done in a fluid and visual way on that device. You will be amazed at the results.

5. Share Your Work

When you are presenting your design work to someone, it pays to get hands on. It really does give an extra dimension to the work and the relationship that someone has with it. But if you want to take that to the next level, you can make sure that they can easily keep some of your work. This could be something as simple as a postcard or other item that is not too expensive for you to give away.

6. Do You Have Many Talents

While you are on track to share your graphic design work in a physical form, why not integrate any other amazing offline skills that you have. If you can sew or produce items with your hands, find ways to incorporate your graphics into that and shine in front of someone. This does not mean that they will employ you for this skill, but it shows how creative you are and how multi-talented you can be.

Final Words

Presenting a graphic design portfolio does not have to be just online and boring. Try to stand out from the competition and take it to the person in physical form and you will not be disappointed.

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Digital vs Standard Offset Printing

You spend hours on your latest design, the one that is going to take your brand, or perhaps your customer’s brand to the next level, and you have all your assets ready to go to the printer. Then next steps should be very easy indeed, right? Just send it all to the printer and you are done. You just have to pick it all up!

Well, that would be awesome, if that was the case. But there are unfortunately printing methods and then… there are printing methods. And if you as the designer do not know the different between the choices you have for your final product, then you may have failed before you even send it out to print.

Digital vs Standard Offset Printing

Volume Printing and Offset Printing

It may seem a little old school for many people, but offset printing still has it’s place when volume is concerned. So if you project requires large volumes of material from one template, then this may be your best bet.

What are we talking about here? Well things like newspapers obviously, but also things your customer might need like brochures, stationary and other things that they will be using in large amounts.

This kind of technology is quite old because we are really talking about metal plates that are used to transfer the ink onto the paper rather than a laser or ink jet, as many of us are used to today.

The quality and product efficiency of such a method of printing is unsurpassable. But you have to ask yourself the question – do I need volume for my customer. If not, then digital is probably the way to go. Otherwise, offset will be very expensive. Small runs on such a machine are just not worth it.

Because of printing in such a high volume bulk, offset printing has its financial benefits which can be availed only with massive orders. The more you print, the cheaper its price gets per piece.

If you want to see what a large Offset Printing operation in the USA looks like, watch the video below:

Lower Quantities – Digital Printing

Digital printing is something we are all familiar with today, because we pretty much use them everywhere from home to work. They basically work from a file, hopefully high resolution, that is then sent to a machine. This machine then does the printing either via a laser printing machine or an inkjet.

Such machines can also be highly accurate and many of the results can rival those of offset printing. Up to a point. But when it comes to volume they cannot compete for sure.

Digital is also really useful for jobs where you need to change each print or produce them as single items. The results are usually more than good enough.

The New Printing World

These days you have choices and value when it comes to printing and all you have to do is evaluate your specific requirements with regards to your customer, timeline and cost.

Offset printing still has it’s place for high volume and premium print runs, but digital is making it’s mark for flexibility and cost effectiveness.

So the next time you have a print job to take care of, at least you know what the options are.

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