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One of the things I get asked in my career is what are RGB and CMYK colour models and is there a difference. It’s a good question and important to know the basics so you know what files to hand over to your various teams. The main thing to know when it comes to these two is that CMYK is for print and RGB is for web and screens. That being said, anytime somebody wants something for print just make sure you send the CMYK version and pretty much anything else will be RGB.

CMYK is an abbreviation for the 4 main colours used on a printing or digital press. Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and black. These 4 colours when mixed in various percentages will produce the full colour print pieces you see everywhere in tangible form.

RGB is an abbreviation for Red, Green and Blue. Just like CMYK, percentages of these colours create all the pixels of colour combos you see on your screens. If you zoom way in to see all the pixels you’ll see each of them is just one of those colours.

Now to the technical stuff! RGB is an additive color model, while CMYK is subtractive. That means RGB uses white as a combination of all primary colors and black as the absence of light. CMYK, on the other hand, uses white as the natural color of the print background and black as a combination of colored inks. Crazy hey!

Important to also note, RGB has a wider range of colors so will look brighter or more vibrant than CMYK. If you print something designed in RGB it may not look the same when you see it on paper simply because all the colours cannot be produced.

If you didn’t start your day knowing about CMYK and RGB now you do. Hope this helps you next time you’re preparing something for print or web.