Spot the Difference: RGB VS CMYK

Chances are you’re reading this blog post on a computer screen or maybe on your phone, but have you ever thought how the screen creates the kaleidoscope of colours that you can see?

A brief guide to RGB and CMYK.

The system of colour used on a screen is called RGB – which stands for the colours red, green and blue. It is called an additive model, because the three colours are added together to produce what we see digitally. It works by projecting light through the pixels on a monitor or screen, which are one of the three primary colours. The colours then blend on the eye’s retina to create the preferred colours.

So what has this got to do with print?

Well, CMYK is the model used by printers and graphic designers. CMYK standards for cyan, magenta, yellow and black and requires printers to produce tiny dots of colour which are printed in a pattern small enough that we perceive it as a solid colour. The colours are printed onto the paper using plates which are aligned to create the desired image.

Anyone using a computer to create a project which is designed for print should always bear in mind that they are seeing their CMYK design in RGB colours and therefore they will look different when printed – paper stock also plays a huge part in the eventual colour as weight and finish can affect the depth of colour hugely.

Did you know? If you were to combine all RGB colours you would make white, but if you were to mix CMYK colours you’d end up with a really dark colour. RGB uses additive types of colour whilst CMYK uses subtractive. If you’re designing for digital stick with RGB, but if you’re looking to professionally print collateral make sure you convert everything to CMYK for the best results.

Converting for print

Here at Streamline we provided a handy Artwork Submission download which helps ensure that our customers have completed all the necessary steps to ensure a straightforward professional print. Included in the checklist is the need to convert any RGB documents or images to CMYK, so that we are able to produce the project to the desired specifications – it’s easy to get caught out, which is why we recommend working with a printer you can trust to protect your best interests.

To see our Artwork Submission download visit our Help Centre. Alternatively, if you have questions or queries about your print requirements call 0116 235 5003.