When we are designing for printing, there are many things to take under consideration. We need to decide on the design, the type of paper we intend to use, the cost associated with the entire project, the printing company for the job, and many more aspects. Unfortunately, to this list, we need to add color modes as well.

When designing websites, we do not need to worry about color modes as colors look similar on all computer monitors. However, when we are designing for print, the graphics will remain accurate when printed.

Let us go through what exactly RGB and CMYK mean. And when should we be using these color modes in detail.


What is the difference between CMYK and RGB?


CMYK and RGB colors behave differently depending on the medium that they are used on, whether they are used online or in print. Let's explore this issue in more detail.


  1. CMYK Color Mode



CMYK is a four-color mode that uses cyan, magenta, yellow and black. This mode uses these four colors in different quantities to create the necessary colors to print any image. When printers are using a digital printing method, they usually print colors on paper using CMYK colors. It is a subtractive process. In this process to create colors, every additional unique color means more light is removed or absorbed. When the cyan, magenta, and yellow colors are combined, the result is not pure black, but rather a very dark brown. The last color (black) completely removes the light from the printed picture, due to which the eye perceives the color as black.


  1. RGB Color Mode



RGB is the color scheme that uses three primary colors - red, green, and blue. RGB displays are commonly found in electronic displays, such as LCD monitors, CRT, scanners, and digital cameras. It is an additive type of color mode. If all three colors are combined and displayed to their fullest extent, the resulting color is pure white. And if all three colors combine to the lowest degree or value, the resulting color is black. Photo editing software programs typically use RGB color mode as it offers the most comprehensive range of colors.


How do I know which one to use when?


When you want to print something such as a newsletter, stationery, or stationary, you can use CMKY. CMYK does not have a white color because it is assumed to appear on white paper and depending on how much of each color is used, the paper white will be used to fill in the spaces, therefore making the shades appear lighter.


You should use RGB if it's something you'll only see digitally. There is a simple explanation behind why the Internet only accepts RGB colors. Digital monitors contain tiny units known as pixels. There are three light units in each pixel: a red light unit, a green light unit, and a blue light unit. By applying the RGB values to these pixels, the luminosity for each light unit is set.


Even though there is no perfectly compatible pair of colors, it is possible to achieve a very close match when the two are converted.


What are the differences between CMYK and RGB?


Based on the amount of white space that is already present and how much mixing of colors is necessary, these colors render differently. It is necessary to convert colors to get the correct color on all media.

There is a reason as to why RGB colors must be converted when creating a printed piece. Colors produced by the RGB scheme are more vivid and vibrant than those produced by CMYK. As these colors are beyond the range of CMYK, they will be darker and duller in print than they appear on a monitor or display.

The RGB color mode has the full range of colors, so documents shown in CMYK will always appear accurately on screen. On the other hand, RGB colors may not always appear as they do on-screen in print. The document or image must be converted from its original RGB format to CMYK before printing. You can accomplish this using software such as Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator. Thus, the same artwork displayed on a computer screen may be different from that published in a magazine.