CMYK v RGB. How to know when to use which one

Posted on October 9, 2016

One of the most common mistakes made when designing something for print is the colour mode used in your file.  Should it be CMYK or RGB?  What’s the difference?  Here’s what you need to know.

RGB colour mode

RGB colour mode is most commonly associated with electronic displays such as your computer screen.  RGB stands for three colours: Red, Green and Blue.  These three colours are mixed together on a screen to create all colours you see.  RGB is an additive colour model, mixing the three colours together to create the various colours you can see on your devices.

CMYK colour mode

In the digital printing world colour is printed on paper using CMYK colours.  Essentially, this is a four colour process using the colours Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black.  The ink levels are used in varying amounts to create all the necessary full colours when printing.  It is a subtractive process, meaning that the addition of each unique colour means more light is removed, or absorbed to create colours.

The Difference between CMYK & RGB?

The number one thing to remember is that RGB is used for your electronic devices and CMYK is used for printing.  In a nutshell, when you are designing something for print you will be using the RGB colour mode but when it actually comes to to get your file printed, it will be printed using the CMYK colour mode.
So when you are ready to print make sure your file is saved in CYMK format. If your file is saved in RGB format this can affect the way your colours are printed and essentially you wont get the finish you are after.

If you have any questions around CMYK and RGB or you want to ensure your next project is print ready please feel free to contact the team at The Print Department


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