Colour – CMYK / RGB / Pantone

Most of us can see our world in vivid colours; of black, white, and all colours of the rainbow. To the naked eye, they are but mere shades varying in hues and saturations. To the initiated, it is exactly these distinctions that helps differentiate the good, from the better in the printing line of work.

CMYK refers to the four inks used in colour printing – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. CMYK is a colour mixing system that depends on chemical pigments to achieve the desired hues. CMYK, while it cannot produce all the colours in the world, can produce quite a number. CMYK is also a standard colour model used in Offset Printing for full colour documents, but is unfortunately limited by factors such as quality of paper, halftone dot size, and the integrity of the ink.

RGB stands for Red, Green and Blue. The RGB colour model varies light, instead of pigment, to achieve the visible spectrum.  RGB model is largely used for the representation and display of images in electronic devices, though it has also been used for conventional photography. It is important to note that due to the difference in lighting, colour matching; or properly converting RGB colours into CMYK is virtually impossible, and what is seen on the digital screen will never match what is printed.

Pantone refers to a standardized colour reproduction system. Each page contains a colour swatch of varying tints, accompanied by an allocated number code for easy reference. The guide has been specially designed to allow designers to accurately colour match specific colours at each stage of the production process. It is important to note that in the Pantone colour system, it is the paper – not the ink – that makes the difference.

The colours designed for uncoated paper have a ”U” behind its allocated number, and a “C” for colours to be used on coated paper. The different types of paper react differently to ink, resulting in dramatically different visuals when it is essentially the same ink. To ensure accurate selection AND representation, choice of paper should complement the colours chosen.

Colours are crucial in printing for us here at Design Workz, hence this article. We hope that we have cleared the air regarding how the colours differ and how they work across various mediums. Should you need any further advice, Design Workz would be pleased to provide you with more colourful suggestions.

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