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When working with graphic design, you must be familiar with the two most common color models: RGB (red, green, blue) and CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black). Whether you use the RGB or CMYK color model depends mainly upon the project. In most design fields, RGB is considered the primary colors, while CMYK is viewed as a subtractive model of color. Therefore, knowing the difference between RGB and CMYK is essential to being a successful graphic designer or setting your design projects up for success.

Today, Davant Indy will be explaining the difference between the RGB and CMYK color models, the projects each model is best suited for, and everything you need to know about each. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision about which is best for your graphic design project. Let’s get started!

What is the Difference Between RGB and CMYK?

Essentially, RGB and CMYK are modes used for mixing color in the graphic design field. It is generally considered that RGB is the best color model used for digital work. At the same time, CMYK is regarded as the most suitable choice for print projects. That being said, to get the most out of your chosen color model, you need to fully understand the mechanisms behind each. So, let’s take a closer look at RGB and CMYK.

What is RGB?

RGB color model is the best choice if you are designing a digital viewing project. In this color model, a device’s light source creates any color you need by mixing red, green, and blue. The device also varies the intensity to create the color you’re looking for.

Using the RGB color model, graphic designers can control various aspects such as shading, vibrancy, and saturation. These changes are done by modifying any of the three base colors: red, green, and blue. But when should you use the RGB color model instead of the CMYK color model?

When to Use the RGB Color Model

In any case, when the project you’re completing will be in a digital format, using the RGB color model is highly recommended. This includes projects for televisions, computers, smartphones, cameras, or tablets. It is also important to note that there are a few file formats that are best suited for the RGB color model, including:

  • PSD
  • JPEG
  • GIFs
  • PNGs

What is CMYK?

Now it’s time to talk about the CMYK color model. Typically used for printed materials, the CMYK color model is used within printing machines to combine colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) in varying degrees with ink. Known as subtractive mixing, this process takes all colors and starts with blank white before using the layers of ink to reduce the initial brightness and create the desired color. When all of the colors are mixed, you get solid black.

When to Use the CMYK Color Model

So when should you stick with the CMYK color model in your graphic design projects? As stated, any visual design project that will be physically printed requires using the CMYK color model. CMYK will offer the most accurate and attractive results if you’re using ink and paint to recreate your design. Like the RGB color model, there are specific file formats best suited for the CMYK color model, including:

  • EPS
  • AI
  • PDFs

What Are Color Spaces?

Now that you know the difference between the RGB and CMYK color models, it is also helpful to understand what color spaces are. Knowing color spaces is vital to diving deeper into the topic of color models used in graphic design. In laymen’s terms, a color space is a specific way of applying your chosen color model. There is a range of different color spaces used between RGB and CMYK.

However, the two most common color spaces are sRGB and Adobe RGB. sRGB is used in almost any screen, while Adobe RGB offers a broader color spectrum for graphic design purposes (but not necessarily all monitors will be able to display them. For this reason, we highly recommend only using Adobe RGB if you know the materials will be used for printing purposes. For-print images can actually use Adobe RGB in place of CMYK so long as the printing machine has been adapted for this specific color space. As a general rule of thumb, it’s always a good idea to ask your printer about the type of printer they use so that you’ll know whether to use the RGB or CMYK color model in your design.

Whether Digital or Print, Davant Indy Has You Covered!

We hope this information about the difference between the RGB and CMYK color models has been helpful to you. Whether you’re an up-and-coming graphic designer or a business owner looking to advance your knowledge of graphic design for business purposes, knowing the difference between the two most commonly used color models will benefit you greatly. Still, learning the basics is only half the battle when taking on a graphic design project- you also need a trusted design and printing provider to bring your vision to life!

Here at Davant Indy, we specialize in various graphic design services, including design, printing, mailing, signage, promotional products, and apparel. Our skilled graphic designers are well-equipped to use both color models to offer you the best possible final product. So tell us about your vision, and let us help you bring it to life! Contact us today to learn what we can do for you.

Photo by Christina Rumpf on Unsplash 

Author Davant

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