RGB vs CMYK: Which color space is right for you?


RGB vs CMYK: Which color space is right for you?

The color space that you use to print your work can have a significant impact on the final look and feel of the finished product. We can create designs that can be displayed anywhere, including mobile devices, desktops, metal signs, or gloss business cards. The difficulty with that is that the colors in our chosen palette might look more different in different display environments.


There are two main types of color space: RGB vs CMYK. RGB is the most common type and is used by most digital devices such as televisions, computers, and smartphones. CMYK is a more specialized type that is mainly used for printing inks on paper. In general, RGB produces brighter colors while CMYK produces more accurate colors. However, there are some disadvantages to using RGB. For example, it can be difficult to create certain shades of color with RGB, and also some colors be difficult to print.

colors palette
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What is Color Gamut?

In photography, graphics, and other forms of design, the color gamut is a term to describe the range of colors expressed by a particular device or software. In most cases, this refers to the number of colors that display on a screen or printed out. Devices with a larger color gamut can reproduce more colors than those with a smaller gamut. This is often illustrated by showing how many different hues can be reproduced on different devices.

The sRGB and Adobe RGB color spaces use in modern graphic design software. sRGB covers only 35.9% of the visible light to Adobe RGB, which reaches 52.1%. Ever since technologies started to improve, we can do better and better at these spaces giving us better gamuts.

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The RGB will impact the consistency on different screens, phones, and desktop displays. Be sure to constantly test your design using several screens and sources so it is possible to correct some of the bigger inconsistencies. As technology advances, screen color representation will become increasingly uniform.

RGB (Additive Color System)

RGB is the most common additive color system, used in digital displays and televisions. It uses three primary colors: red, green, and blue. These three colors can be combined to create any other color in the spectrum by varying the intensities of each. RGB is a great option for displays because it can create a wide range of colors with just three primary colors. An RGB display is made up of three separate light tubes that emit light at three different wavelengths.


Hex colors are used in web design to create a color palette. It’s made up of 6 characters that represent the red, green, and blue levels of each color. By using hex colors in web design, you can ensure that all browsers display your website with the same colors.

There are three sets of numbers in a hexadecimal code. The first set of digits represents the color red; the second, green; and the third, blue. While the combination equals the hexadecimal code, it produces a fully mixed color. The scale of 0 to F determines if it is darkest (0)or lightest (F) so the hexadecimal code 000000 would be black and FFFFFF would be pure white.

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Web-safe colors are a set of 216 colors that display on the web without the risk of being changed by the browser. This allows for a more consistent look across different devices and platforms. Web-safe colors make it easier to change the colors of screenshots, making them more convenient to use in a variety of programs and devices.


CMYK is a subtractive color system that combines cyan, magenta, yellow, and black to create a wide range of colors. The colors are created by layering different amounts of each color over each other on top of a white background. This system is used in traditional printing methods, such as newspapers and magazines.

Four metal plates are created in the printing process for any design. The first plate will include only cyan areas that will print, the second plate yellow, the third plate magenta, and the last one will include black ink to help to saturate or darken the cyan areas.


In printing, Pantone Matching System (PMS) colors are special inks that have a specific formula. Each printer has its own set of Pantone inks, and when you send a file to be printed, you need to select the Pantone colors that will be used. Because the inks are specific formulas, the colors will print the same way each time – even if there is a different printer or paper used.

Pantone has various color selections. Some incorporate metallic colors and potent swatches that can add an extra sparkle to your printed inks.

Different In Between RGB vs CMYK

Image By Lindsay Marsh Design

CMYK is a subtractive color model in that when you add all of the colors together they form black, while in RGB or additive color model, we add all the colors together in order to produce a pure white.

RGB is an additive color system, meaning we mix colors along with light. It starts with a darkened black pixel and takes up light and color.

But in printing, light reflects colors differently from inks do. The white paper reflects the greatest light when it reflects light well and absorbs the greatest light when it poorly reflects it.

CYMK only consists of inks and the reflective quality of light, it has a much more limited color range and this is a big problem in design.

Graphic Designer Tips

As designers, we must consistently make designs that look good in print and on the screen. Hence, we must use CMYK vs RGB to showcase the same design in whatever setting.

For example, my current logo has a bright and vibrant design that looks perfect on a computer. I process it for printing on paper and printer and undergo a disappointment as I see how the colors dull. This happens quite frequently and is a natural obstruction we deal with every day.

Manual Color Correction
Image By Lindsay Marsh Design

You can manually select the closest colors you can find in an effort to retain color vibrancy. You’ll not get as close to a full RGB match as color decoder algorithms can normally get, but you can get a bit closer compared to each other.

Conclusion: RGB vs CMYK

There are many things to consider when choosing a color space for your project. RGB is great for digital projects and photos, while CMYK is better for print projects. Whichever you choose, be sure to test your colors in both spaces to make sure they look the way you want them to.

And the Pantone Book will be an important tool for every designer, you should have one. They have “coated” Pantone color, which is glossy, semi-gloss, or matte finishes on paper. Also, “uncoated” Pantone color is less common and is more porous and absorbs more of the in on paper.

It is my wish that this information piece has been helpful. Feel free to leave your comments below and share them are the most constructive method to share helpful info.

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