By Emily Spirek on August 13, 2008

By Emily Spirek on August 13, 2008

Probably one of the most important pieces of knowledge a designer could have is understanding the difference between CMYK and RGB color modes.

  • CMYK (Cyan Magenta Yellow Black) -for printing (subtractive color)
  • RGB (Red Green Blue) – for screen display (additive color)

Say you have white paper with black dots, and you allow 50% of the paper to show through: you would have a shade of gray. Depending on the concentration of the dots is what gives you different shades. CMYK works the same way with Cyan, Magenta and Yellow, and this is how you get different colors (1,000,000 options). By changing the shade of your paper, you can also achieve different colors.

Rather than using dots, RGB color shades are produced with different levels from the electronic source. Unlike the 100 variations per color using CMYK, there are 256 shades/levels of brightness per color using RGB, which means 16, 77,216 colors total.

Knowing the difference between the two is vital and the change is very apparent in your work.


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