RGB vs CMYK

03 July

RGB vs CMYK

I've found myself working in RGB mode a lot more lately. Before the internet, the only time we would work in RGB was on drum scanned images. Once we got the scan back, we would convert from RGB to CMYK, then do the color correction. At this point, you would need to watch your ink saturation levels carefully - especially in the darker regions. Since most of the work I do now is online, I work almost entirely in RGB. On an RGB monitor, what you see is what you get. However, when dealing with CMYK printing - what you see is not always what you get.

Let me explain:

An image on an RGB computer monitor is created by projecting red green and blue light onto a black screen. In CMYK printing , your images are built by laying down precise amounts of cyan , magenta , yellow and black inks onto a white page. Id have to say that this area of design technology can be a learning experience. An RGB image that is converted to CMYK using the wrong settings or adjusted incorrectly can lead to oversaturation on the printing press. A black area that is built using only 100% black ink appears black on a monitor - but once printed is only dark gray. To get a true black or what we call "Rich Black" (Rich K) you need to run a good combo of all four inks.

My "Rich Black" contains the following ratio 60C, 50M, 50Y, 100K. This combo produces a nice well balanced black. If you wanted a "Warm Black" you could run 0C, 60M, 30C, 100K and if you needed a "Cool Black" run 60C, 0M, 0Y, 100K. If you really want to get tech you can set type using a Rich K and then set the background screen to Cool Black. This will produce a tone on tone effect that is quite edgy. To take it even further, you can lay down a 5th color as spot matte or gloss UV coating. This can really make things pop off the page.

As far as I know, print design will never be able to incorporate motion, sound or dynamic data. Next time you have a print project, kick it up a notch by adding a fifth color or run some Rich K / Cool Black combinations.

TAGS: Web Design, General