NH Printing: What’s the Difference Between RGB and CMYK?

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If you’ve done any digital design or design for print media, you’ve probably come across the terms RGB and CMYK before. These are two different color models that we use in different contexts. RGB is for digital displays, while CMYK is for print media. RGB stands for red, green, blue, and CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, key (black). In our NH printing business at The Print Factory, we have to know how to use both color models.


In this article, we are going to look at the differences between these color models and how we use both in NH printing.


RGB for Digital Design

Today, we design nearly everything that we plan to print digitally on a computer first. Computer screens use RGB to display colors through an additive color model. The display combines different intensities of red, green, and blue light to represent colors on the screen. All three colors at full intensity create white, while the absence of all three makes black. Because of the additive nature of the light, RBG has a broader gamut, or range of colors, than CMYK.


CMYK for Print Production

CMYK is a subtractive color model that we use for print media. Layers of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (called “key”) are applied to the paper to create different colors. Even though screens show colors in RGB, most design software has the option to create your image in CMYK if you intend to print it. The printing process does limit the color gamut of CMYK, but you can still reproduce most colors that the human eye can see.


Color Conversion Considerations

It is a pretty common occurrence that someone creates a design to share digitally through social media or email marketing but then decides to print it as well. In that case, you may have to convert an RGB image to CMYK. That process can change how the colors look because CMYK has a smaller color gamut than RGB. After making adjustments to the colors, you should always do a test print to ensure that the colors look the way you want them to.


Quality NH Printing from The Print Factory

At The Print Factory, we have been providing superior printing in NH since 1982. Whether you have an existing image or news assistance with a design, we are happy to help meet all your printing needs.


Contact us at 603-880-4519 to request a quote to learn more about our services.