Colour formats – know your RGB from your CMYK

By 20 October, 2017Design
CMYK colour tiger graphic
A quick guide to different colour formats and how to use them…

These acronyms may look like industry jargon, but it can be useful to understand colour abbreviations and their uses. We like to think of it as a collection of holiday outfits (well, it is holiday season, and we are Beach remember!) – each has its own purpose. You need the shorts and t-shirts for the warm sunny days in the sunshine, but you also need the posh frock and cardigan for meals out in the cool evenings. So, here’s a quick reference guide so you know when to use each colour format, and why.

CMYK – stands for cyan, magenta, yellow and black, and is the colour format for printed, full colour images. CMYK is sometimes referred to as ‘four colour process’, with ‘four’ being the number of inks used, and ‘process’ referring to a printing technique that recreates the full spectrum of visible colours using just these four ink colours.

RGB – is the format used specifically for electronic display of graphics and images – in other words on the web, and also in some desktop publishing packages (Word does not accept CMYK references). RGB stands for red, green, blue. All colours generated on TVs and computer screens are a result of a combination of red, blue and green light emitted by electronics inside each device.

SPOT/PMS – Spot or PMS (pantone matching system) colours are set up using pantone references to ensure colours are matched correctly. These colours are particularly useful when printing signage, letterheads and similar corporate stationery as only two colour plates will be needed.)

So the next time someone asks you for your colour logo, hopefully you’ll be able to answer, “Would you like that in CMYK, RGB or PMS?”… and this time you’ll actually know what you’re talking about!

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