RGB and CMYK colour formats.

Does it matter what I use?

What is the difference between RGB and CMYK? RGB and CMYK are colour formats that are used in two different fields. Using the correct colour format is essential to achieving perfect results and keeping your brand colours consistent in all your AdvertsAnnual ReportsInfographics or brochures and marketing materials.

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Colour profiles.

Red, green and blue.

RGB is used in screen devices such as tablets, monitors, TVs and phones. Three colours are used (Red, Green, Blue) to create all the colours needed. White is created by combining all the colours.

Cyan, magenta, yellow and black.

CMYK is used in the printing industry and uses four inks (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) to create the colours needed for printing materials. White is obtained by using the paper colour and having no ink printed on the areas that need to be white.

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So why does this matter to me?

The difference between screen colours and printed colours.

Until recently when you wanted to design a brochure you would need to use CMYK formatted images. Typically devices that would take (photograph) these images would create them in an RGB format. The designer or printer would then need to convert the image files to CMYK by using software such as Photoshop. During this process, you would lose a little vibrancy due to the CMYK format being optimised for print and not screen (blues would see the most noticeable change and tend to look flatter).

Due to this, the colour you see on screen isn’t necessarily the colours you are going to see in print, as they are two totally different colour systems. So it is imperative that you see a printed proof before proceeding to print to check you are happy with the results.

Advances in software recently have helped and in some cases you will see better results if you supply images in RBG, saving the designer or printer from having to convert these. High-end brochures and photography will still rely on the designer/photographer to convert image files from one format to the other with specialist software and their expert eye.

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Always ask for proofs.

Do I need to do anything?

In short, no; any good designer will check image formats and convert these to obtain maximum quality, if this is factored into the project cost.

Some will advise if there is a problem whilst others will just reproduce what you supply. This is when you need to check the images in a physical proof before signing off for print. Once you have signed off the proof the printed material becomes your responsibility.

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