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  • Idwal Jones

Exploring the World of Ink: Why Different Colours Matter in Printing

Updated: May 10, 2023

In the world of graphic design, colour is a crucial aspect that can make or break a design. Designers must have a solid understanding of colour modes, particularly CMYK and RGB, to create stunning visual designs. These colour modes are essential in both print and digital design, and it is crucial to understand their differences, benefits, and drawbacks to use them effectively. In this blog, we will explore CMYK and RGB colours and their significance in graphic design. We will also discuss colour profiles and their importance in the printing process. Additionally, we will look at Designed4Print Ltd, a leading print house, London-based, and how their services can assist designers in creating high-quality printed materials.

CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (Black). It is a subtractive colour mode that works by removing light from white to create colours. This colour mode is used in print production, and it is the colour model used by most printers. The four colours are combined in varying percentages to produce a wide range of colours, making it possible to create photo-quality images. When all four colours are printed at 100% density, they create a solid black colour, known as Key or K in CMYK.

On the other hand, RGB stands for Red, Green, and Blue. It is an additive colour model that works by adding light to create colours. This colour mode is commonly used for digital design work, such as web design, video, and photography. RGB is an excellent colour mode for digital design because it produces bright, vibrant colours that are ideal for display on screens. Unlike CMYK, RGB does not have a black colour. To create black, RGB combines all three colours at 0% density, resulting in a pure black colour.

Both CMYK and RGB are widely used in the design world, and they have some distinct differences. For example, RGB is suitable for digital design work, while CMYK is ideal for print production. If an RGB image is printed using a CMYK colour mode, the colours may appear different from what was intended. This is because RGB has a larger colour gamut than CMYK, which means it can produce a more extensive range of colours. As a result, some colours may be outside the CMYK colour range and will need to be adjusted to match the intended colour.

Another difference between the two colour modes is their colour values. RGB is measured in values ranging from 0 to 255, while CMYK is measured in percentages. RGB uses additive colours, meaning that when all three colours are combined at 100% density, they produce white. On the other hand, CMYK uses subtractive colours, where 100% density of all four colours produces black.

Despite their differences, both CMYK and RGB have their advantages and disadvantages. RGB is best for creating digital designs because it produces bright, vibrant colours that are ideal for display on screens. It is also easier to work with RGB because most design software and digital devices use this colour mode. However, RGB is not suitable for print production because the colours may appear different from what was intended when printed.

CMYK, on the other hand, is perfect for print production because it produces photo-quality images. It is the colour mode used by most printers, making it easier to match colours accurately. However, CMYK has a limited colour range compared to RGB, which means some colours may appear different from what was intended.

Colour profiles play a crucial role in ensuring that the colours in a design appear as intended across different devices and mediums. A colour profile is a set of data that describes the colour attributes of a device or medium, such as a monitor, printer, or paper. It defines the colour space, the colour gamut, and the tone response of a device or medium, which are essential factors in colour accuracy.

Colour profiles are necessary because different devices and mediums have different colour capabilities and display colours differently. For example, a monitor can display a more extensive range of colours than a printer, which means that some colours may appear differently when printed. Colour profiles help to ensure that the colours in a design appear as close to the intended colours as possible, regardless of the device or medium used.

There are several different colour profiles used in graphic design, and each serves a specific purpose. The two most commonly used colour profiles are sRGB and Adobe RGB. sRGB is a standard colour space used in web design and digital photography, while Adobe RGB is used in professional print production.

When designing for print, it is essential to use a colour profile that is suitable for the intended printing process. Located in London, Designed4Print Ltd’s printing services recommends using the CMYK colour mode with a colour profile of Coated FOGRA39 for their offset printing process. This profile ensures that the colours in a design appear accurately when printed using their equipment.


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Pantone Colours

CMYK and Pantone are the two most widely used colour systems in graphic design and printing. CMYK, as mentioned above, stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (Black) and is the colour model used in four-colour (process) litho and digital printing. Pantone, on the other hand, is a colour matching system that provides standardised colours that are consistent across different mediums and devices. Pantone colour matching is predominantly printed on a litho press, but some modern digital printers have a built-in colour matching feature which can yield very accurate results.

Pantone colours are identified by a specific number or code and are created using a specific ink formula. This ensures that the colour remains consistent across different materials and printing processes. Pantone colours are often used in branding and logo design to ensure that the colours used in the design are consistent across different mediums, such as signage, print materials, and digital platforms.


When designing for print, it is essential to consider both CMYK and Pantone colours. While CMYK is the standard colour system used in printing, Pantone colours are often used for specific colours that need to be consistent across different mediums. Designed4Print Ltd, a London printer, recommends using Pantone colours for logo design and branding to ensure colour consistency across different materials and printing processes.


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