Many of my clients have asked what is the difference between RGB and CMYK colours and how they use each of them. For this reason I decided to write this blog post.

There are a couple of things you need to know when working with colour. To start, colour works under different system. The one you see in your monitor and your website is RGB, while the system that is used for printing is CMYK.

CMYK

CMYK comes from C= Cyan, M=Magenta, Y=yellow, K=black the mix of different percentages of these 4 colours, achieve a desire shade that will be the one you have chosen for your brand.

This specific system works like in real life, if you mix all the colours together, you will reach a point where you get a dark brown or even black, this is because the colours are subtractive.

This is the system used for printing material, so any marketing collateral you have like business cards, letterhead, brochures, flyers etc. the file needs to be set to CMYK.

RGB

The system that monitors and TV’s use is called RGB and it works totally different than CMYK does. RGB uses Red, Green and Blue and if you mix them all togeth­er, you will get white as a result because the colours are additive. When you add more colours, you end up adding more light from the screen.

When designing your website you need to have in mind that RGB colours are represented as hexadecimal values that a browser can read. Therefore for each colour you have in your colour palette, you will have the CMYK, RGB and hexa­decimal values.

That is the main different between these 2 colour systems, if you try to print a RGB document, you will end up with a totally different result than you were ex­pecting, as the colours in the screen look brighter than in print.

When designing your website you will be working with additive colours in RGB mode and when you are designing for print, be sure you are working in CMYK mode. In this way you will achieve closer results to the ones you are looking for.

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