Having basic knowledge of RGB and CMYK color modes is critical for producing quality digital and print materials. Once you know which color mode is best for your project needs, building and executing your design files becomes much easier and eliminates the risk of unexpected color results. We’re going to break it down for you with a quick Q&A:
Which color mode is best for my needs?
If the end result is going to be featured on a digital device, such as a computer or tablet, your file should be built in RGB color mode. If the end result is going to be printed, your file should be built in CMYK color mode.
What is the difference between the two color modes?
RGB is based off of light and CMYK is based off of ink. RGB color mode enhances colors that are going to be featured on a digital device. Red, green, and blue (RGB) light are mixed to create any color on screen. CMYK color mode enhances colors that are going to be printed. Cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK) ink are mixed to create thousands of different colors on paper.
What are the risks of preparing my file in the wrong color mode?
When preparing files for print, it’s especially important to ensure that your file is set up in CMYK color mode. If your file is set up in RGB color mode, the colors will not print as they are seen on screen. Many graphic designers who regularly prepare files for print find it helpful to have a Pantone color guide on hand for reference as to how certain color formulas will look when printed.