Choosing Colors for Print: CMYK, RGB & PMS

Color SwatchesCyan - Magenta - Yellow - Black

Color brightens up your world.

You have spent a lot of time on the design of your project and now want what you see on your computer monitor exactly reproduced. However, what you see on your computer screen is not necessarily a reliable representation of a commercially-printed piece.

Your computer monitor uses Red, Green and Blue (RGB) light to display your images. This is standard for web design, since monitors are calibrated in RGB. A commercially-printed piece, however, is printed using Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black inks (commonly called CMYK).

Paint dripping. Monitors and inks behave differently. The image on a monitor is a reflection of light, while, technically speaking, inks absorb light. Computer monitors sometimes have a blueish or greenish cast to them; every computer monitor is different in one respect or another. Paper also can put forth different casts. As ink is absorbed into paper, colors darken. Other paper characteristics can change the way printed colors look compared to a computer monitor display.

Since color is a large consideration for your printing project, knowing these issues can make producing your printed piece easier and more attractive. At Metzgers, we can work with files in CMYK or in RGB as long as the final file is in PDF format.

Any color you want can be mixed.Another color consideration is whether your design will be printed in full color, with spot colors, or just one color. Full-color designs require files saved as CMYK as indicated above. If your printing project calls for “spot color” or one-color in certain areas of your design, then refer to the Pantone Matching System (PMS) to designate the proper PMS color throughout your design files. This is typically a number associated with a PMS swatch of colors.

The same goes for single colors. In your design files, make sure the designated single colors are specified as PMS numbers and not as a CMYK build.

Color is an important part of printing, and we hope we have given you the things to consider to get your project done. Please send our experts an email with any questions you may have about color, color separation or saving files in color. We’ve found that a simple phone call will often save our clients time and money and ensure the highest quality on the designated due dates.

Tags: digital - offset

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