CMYK vs RGB | Guide for Printing and Designing

cmyk vs rgb guide towards printing services

Whether you are a designer or getting a design, it doesn’t matter. You must know the difference between CMYK and RGB color modes. You might have gone through what the letter stands for CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key) & RGB ( Red, Green, Blue); oops! Mostly colors. As a printing & Designing services provider, SUM group needs you to understand which color is best for your project and how the final result is displayed.
We will explain CMYK & RGB colors. We’ll explain it’s best to use each.

Any difference between RGB and CMYK?
A quick reference, RGB is used for digital work, whereas CMYK is used for print products & Services. For a good understanding, let’s dive a bit deeper.

What is RGB?
As mentioned, the RGB (Red, Green, Blue) is used for digital work/ Images; if your artwork is supposed to be displayed on any screen, you must adopt RGB color mode. You can create any color by mixing Red, Green, and Blue with varying intensity. When these three colors are mixed at equal intensity, they create pure white. Designers have control aspects of saturation, shading, and vibrancy by modifying any of the three source colors. Also, designers can manipulate how the light on the screen manifests to create the color they want.

Where to use RGB Color Mode?
RGB are used in Digital Screens like televisions, laptops, Monitors, Mobile phones, Cameras, Etc.

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How would you know when to use RGB colors?
First, a common thing you can ask your client or yourself will it is going to display on screen or not. If yes, then go for it; we have gathered some info on when to use RGB colors, If your design project involves Web & App Designing, Branding, Social Media & Visual Content.

Best file formats for RBG?
JPEGs are ideal for RGB Files as they are mostly used on screens. PSDs are commonly the source file for RGB documents (if a team is working on the design, all must use a single format), PNGs support transparent Background, and GIFs are motion pictures and animated elements.

What is CMYK?
CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key) is used for print products & Design Services (Not to be used on screens), Branding known as Commercial Printing (Offset Printing). The designer can create any color by mixing Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key with the varying intensity that is required.

Where to use CMYK Color Mode?
When designing or getting a design for commercial printing, You must follow the CMYK format; otherwise, your output will not meet the requirements.

What is Offset Printing (Commercial Printing)?
Commercial Printing is a widely used printing technique in which the inked image is on a printing plate. For every CMYK color, there is a different place with different Opacity to achieve the color set by the designer. Which is transferred (i.e., offset) to Paper or other material; later used for making a brand box, Letterhead, or any other way.


Recommendations by SUM Group as a printing service provider:

  • Few things which you must keep in mind; If you want the black color in the final output, rather than mixing CMY to create Black Color, insert the Key (K=100); this helps you get the desired result. 

  • If you want to create a Bright Blue color, use C=100, M=100, Y=0, K=0; Want a darker tone, then Add Key color according to our requirement; adding Yellow (Y) can result in unwanted color variation. 

How would you know when to use CMYK colors?
Ask the client about the requirement, or if you know the purpose the design /Artwork would be sent for offset printing, then use CMYK Color format. CMYK Project involves Branding, Company Profiles, Portfolios, Advertising Posters, Marketing Agency Banners, Brouchers, merchandise like Table Calander, T-Shirt Design, Restaurant Menus, etc.

Best file formats for CMYK?
PDFs are the most compatible program when working with CMYK Color mode, AI is the standard source file while working with CMYK format (if a team is working on the design, all must use a single format) Wears it not necessary that you can’t use AI file for RGB Color mod as its designer choice whom it suits them best, and EPS the great source file alternative.

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Offset printing VS digital printing?
As mentioned above, offset printing is for commercial purposes and needs printing plates that print to Paper or any other material. Digital printing directly prints on Paper, vinyl, or any other material.

Is offset printing good?
Offset printing is a durable and time-tested option and best for large to massive quantities, and it achieves the Economy of Scale in large quantities only, i.e., cost-effective.


We hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

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