Color Printing: RGB vs. CMYK

Placing an order for your next color printing project is as easy as 1-2-3, however ensuring that you achieve the printing results expected are contingent upon the mode of color used during the design process. Professional designers understand that there is a difference between the color modes applicable to; design software, home printers and professional, sheet-fed offset printing companies. That difference is RGB vs. CMYK.

RGB – Additive Colors

The RGB (Red, Green, Blue) color mode is applicable to computer monitors, scanners and T.V’s. and are known as “additive colors”. The theory behind RGB is that when combined they produce a white light, and when all three colors are removed produce the color black.

RGB colors are combined to create other colors. By combining Red and Green, the result is Yellow. Red and Blue creates Magenta and Blue and Green results in Cyan. Desktop printers use the colors Cyan, Magenta and Yellow to produce/print Red, Green and Blue.

CMYK – Subtractive Colors

The printing industry generates printed materials using subtractive colors (CMYK). The colors that make up this color printing mode are; Cyan (C), Magenta (M), Yellow (Y) and Black (K). Take notice that three of the four colors are derived from the RGB color mode.  Black is added to the mix and is referred to as “K” in order to avoid confusion, as Blue is referred to as “B”.

Combining CMY colors to develop additional colors works well with bright colors, however mixing them together to produce dark colors is not as effective.  Dark colors appear murky and order to avoid this unwanted appearance, black (K) is added.

Submitting Files to Print

Always submit files to print using the CMYK (4 color process; Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black). When submitting black and white graphics or images, submit them using grayscale.

Monitor configuration typically uses the RGB (Red, Green and Blue) color process. CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) color formatting is the preferred method used for four color printing. CMYK has the ability to reproduce the color of your graphics exactly. Please convert RGB to CMYK before uploading. After completing the conversion process, it is important review colors, as they may need adjusted.

Print Lion offers the printing services you need to succeed. Any files that are sent as LAB, RGB or have additional PMS (Pantone colors) will be returned. If you would like Print Lion to convert the files for you, there is a chance that a color change/shift will occur. This most commonly occurs for blues and browns.

If you would like to learn more about color printing, please contact us or call 1-800-257-8830 today.

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