The Difference Between RGB and CMYK

First of all, what is RGB? What is CMYK?

Definition of RGB

Short for RedGreenBlue. The RGcolor model in which red, green, and blue light are added together in various ways to reproduce a broad array of colors.


Definition of  CMYK–  

Short for CyanMagentaYellowBlack, and pronounced as separate letters. CMYK is a color model in which all colors are described as a mixture of these four process colors.


The Difference Between RGB and CMYK

RGB and CMYK are the most prominent and typical color models in the world of design. In print, web, or digital media, a basic understanding of what the differences are, means a fledgling designer can vastly improve the quality of a project.

The main difference between RGB and CMYK is that the first one is used for digital appearance and the second one is representative for the print world. 

RGB is the typical color space used by electronic displays, monitors, pda screens, etc. In RGB, images are created by combining red, green, and blue light. Process of addition can create millions of different colors by using varying concentrations of the primaries. So when designing a website, web banner, buttons, e-newsletter, etc, your images and files should be set to this profile. RGB colour system is only suitable for screen reproduction such as LCD and CRT computer monitors and TV screens. This is not suitable color matching for printing or to colour match from, as each screen may represent colours differently. What may look fine on one screen, may be look completely different on another. This can be due to a numberof reasons, whether it be due to individual screen settings such as brightness and contrast or even may be due to different monitor manufactures; i.e. Sony or LG.

CMYK is the primary color model used by color printers. So flyers, brochures, advertising, newsletters, direct mail pieces, etc., a CMYK profile may provide better quality results or a better expectation of whatyour results will be. CMYK creates different colors in a subtractive process using four colors or inks: cyan (blue), magenta (pink), yellow, and black. Chances are your inkjet, bubble jet, or laser printer at home has a CMYK or CMYK variant setup. There are many RGB colors that CMYK printers cannot reproduce. Something that looks good on the monitor may not retain that quality in the printed piece. CMYK is the standard color model used in offset printing for full-color documents. Because such printing uses inks of these four basic colors, it is often called four-color printing.

So, if it’s a digital design RGB is what your designer should be using, but for printing purposes CMYK should be used.









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