Friday, 15 July 2016

RGB & CMYK - What's the Difference?

So you’ve gone to great pains in an effort to get your design just right, selecting the perfect shade of red whether it’s candy apple red, cherry red, scarlet, berry, or sangria. You’ve spelt check the doc, ensured everything is where it should be and is ready for the printer. Off it goes, you can’t wait. But! When your perfectly designed doc is printed and you look at your work, the color is off. Wth?

Well, it may just be that your monitor lied to you. Meaning, that the colours you see on your computer monitor are displayed in RGB mode and the document was printed using CMYK mode.All devices employing light to produce images use the RGB colour model, for example, computer monitors, smartphones and television sets use additive colour to display images.

The CMYK colour model however is the standard employed by printing presses and uses subtractive colour. In the olden days, to achieve colour, cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK) were laid down sequentially to achieve the desired image. Today, digital printers employ the CMYK model to achieve a specific colour swatch.

A general rule of thumb is anything dealing with the web should be in RGB whereas printed materials should be in CMYK. When someone notes that something looked different on screen than it does on paper, it is often because of the different colour ranges.

The folks at have created a wonderful infographic further explaining the differences between RGB and CMYK colour models and why it is the colours displayed on your monitor don’t match up with the colours you see in print: