RGB vs. CMYK. Why All the Fuss?

Posted July 16th, 2014 by .

Categories: CMYK, Color.

Here’s a situation that some of you may be familiar with.

Your company picnic was a great success and your boss wants a copy of that photo you took with your high-end digital camera to be printed in the next company newsletter. All 5,000 copies.

Too much for your office’s digital printer to handle, so you send the file to a professional printer. You pick a nice paper, come up with a snazzy headline, and place your image on the front page.

You get the newsletters back, with that great photo of your boss winning the 3-legged race wearing his trademark turquoise polo shirt, and you notice that shirt now looks green.

What happened? It was perfect when you looked at it on the computer!

As commercial printers, we see this happen all the time. Fortunately, as professionals, we also know how to fix this problem before it begins.

If you use a computer you have heard of and are probably familiar with the 3 letters RGB.

RGB stands for Red, Green, Blue and is what’s known as an “additive color model”. That is, Red, Green and Blue light is “added” together in various ways to reproduce the millions of colors you see on your screen.

Because the colors are reproduced using light, they seem bright and vibrant, with the colors popping off of the screen. However, these same colors do not look the same when printed on paper. Here’s why.

In order to reproduce the vast amount of colors our eyes can see on paper, printers need to use 4 colors: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black, or CMYK. (Using the letter “K” to represent Black is a holdover from the early days of printing.)

CMYK is a “subtractive” color model. By laying down layers of ink, we are “subtracting” the brightness of the white paper to create the variety of colors.

The results are a flatter color reproduction than you would see on a computer monitor (or a television screen, which uses the same process).
Using a photo editing program like Photoshop®, the professionals at Zodiac Printeractive can convert your RGB images to CMYK and, by adjusting a variety of settings we can match, as closely as possible, your original images.

If you have questions about your next project with Zodiac Printeractive and converting your RGB images to CMYK, call and speak to one of our Sales Associates today.