Understanding CMYK / RGB colour matching

Understanding colour matching on web sites and brochures.

In this post, we are going to explore the differences between RGB and CMYK colour profiles. The first problem is trying to match a printed colour to that displayed on a screen. A printed item REFLECTS light and the screen PROJECTS light– meaning the eye receives the light in a completely different way.

Generally, when dealing with designers, you will hear us talking about four types of colour profile:

CMYK Colour

Full colour printing is broken down in to ‘four process colours’, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (Black).

Pantone Swatches

Imagine Pantone numbers as the designer’s equivalent to a Dulux colour chart. You chose your desired colour and buy a pot of that colour. Pantone colours, sometimes known as ‘spot colours’, work in much the same way. They can be used in isolation, as spot colours, or as a ‘special colour’ when printing CMYK. Only ONE THIRD of Pantone colours have an accurate CMYK alternative. so where colour match is critical, printers will run these as a fifth colour (CMYK + 1 special).

RGB Colour Display

Whereas the process spectrum is broken down in to CMYK when printing, electronically, it is broken down in to Red, Green, Blue. This illustrates why it’s impossible to get an exact match when comparing the printed colour and the colour on a screen.

Hex Code Colour Display

Hex codes are used when creating websites. It’s a three-byte mathematical break down, consisting of a combination six letters and numbers. These are used in place as RGB profiles, as they are deemed more accurate on screen.

I hope you have found this guide to colour-types useful. Creative Services are passionate about every detail of your design brief, whether it’s a printed item, or whether it’s digital, such as a website, we will take the trouble to understand every aspect of the process, ensuring you get the very best for your marketing spend.

For an informal chat about your future marketing activities, contact Creative Services today, by completing the form below, or calling 029 2115 0013.

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