December 26, 2018 - Written by: Kahla Livelsberger
What is the difference between RGB & CMYK? Well, first lets go over what those acronyms stand for so we can start on the same page.
RGB - Red-Green-Blue
CMYK - Cyan-Magenta-Yellow-Black
Now that we know what they each stand for, let's go over what they are exactly and what the difference is.
RBG color mode combines all of the primary colors: red, green, and blue. If you were to combine all three colors together to the highest value it would make white. If you were to combine them to the lowest value it would make black. RGB offers the widest range of colors. This color mode is associated with electronic displays which includes monitors, cameras, and cellular devices.
CMYK color mode combines subtractive colors, cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. If you were to combine the first three colors, cyan, magenta, and yellow they would make a very dark brown. The last color, black, or "K" is used to remove light which is why your eyes see it as black. If you were to look very closely at your printed work it would be made up of 4 dots of color - cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.
When to use what mode?
Simple answer. If you want to print, use CMYK. If you are designing for web or anything digital, use RBG. We use RGB for digital because your monitor or phone is made up of pixels which are made up of 3 "light" units - red, green, and blue. You can convert the color mode back and forth and make them look extremely similar, although a perfect match is not promised. This is why your colors look different printed, verses what they looked like on the screen.
So, next time you start a new project make sure you choose the appropriate color mode depending on if you’re using print or digital.