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Avoid Making This Mistake Before Sending Us Your Design

Executive Digital Graphic Design

Most people don’t know the difference between RGB and CMYK and that’s fine, no one knows everything. However, if you wish to print something, you need to learn the difference between these two before making a very expensive error.

You might think that modern PDF standards automatically convert RGB to CMYK upon saving, and they really do, but that conversion can be awful, and the conversion can mess up your colors completely.

What is the RGB color mode?

RGB stands for red, green, and blue. This mode uses base colors to form every other color imaginable. That means that the RGB color mode creates other colors by adding different quantities of red, green, and blue. RGB is the color mode that is associated with old-fashioned television, computer monitors, and other displays.

RGB is the standard color mode simply because it offers the widest selection of colors.

What is the CMYK color mode?

CMYK works in a completely different way than RGB. This color mode uses subtractive colors – cyan, magenta, yellow, and key. Key is in this case used as another word for black.

If you need something printed, you should be aware that the printing world operates in CMYK mode.

Why should you always deliver your images in CMYK mode?

Your printer might be able to print full RGB spectrum, but the printers in the printing world still use the CMYK principle. The truth is, you can submit your images in RGB to the professionals who offer graphic printing services but don’t expect your colors to match the ones you chose. Most of the time the color change that will occur during RGB convert to CMYK is slight, but it can mess up your design completely.

Should you use RGB or CMYK when designing?

It depends on what exactly you are designing, and what is the intended use of your design. If you’re designing exclusively for digital medium, then RGB is the best way to go. However, if you’re designing for print, you should use CMYK color mode exclusively.

You need freedom when you’re designing, and that’s understandable. It’s recommended that you design in RGB, but before finishing your project make sure to convert it to CMYK and save it.

However, sometimes you’ll need to design in CMYK. Why? Grey is the color that cannot be converted properly from RGB to CMYK. If you use the RGB color mode for designing a gray logo, your finished and printed product will have a pinkish glow. If you use the CMYK color mode, the key (black) color is used to control the process.

In short, when it comes to deciding to use RGB vs CMYK, figure out what your output will be.

Why do we still use CMYK?

The answer is rather simple. Back in the printing press days, every ink (color) had its own plate. Printing presses still work on the same principle. Why? Because printing deals with absorption and reflection of wavelengths of which we see as color. Computer monitors and TV sets give off colored light known as RGB, they do not deal with absorption. It’s an entirely different principle. That is basic RGB and CMYK difference.


Basically, designing for print in this day and age is simple and straightforward as long as you are aware of the differences between RGB and CMYK and the potential color variations between the two. It’s always wise to take a moment to run your design by the team at ThinkPro and get their advice before printing your design. Figure out what your output will be and remember – use RGB for digital design and CMYK if you’re designing for print.