RGB and CMYK color models: an affordable guide
Additive colors are created using a method that combines many different shades. Red, green and blue are the main colors that are used in the additive model. Combinations of two of these colors create an additional color: cyan, magenta, or yellow.
You often see RGB images on TVs and computer monitors. This mode can only be used by devices that generate light. An image made in RGB is only suitable for printing on a digital printer.
If you want the layout to be professionally printed, you will have to change the color mode to CMYK.
CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. This is a subtractive model, the opposite of RGB. In it, colors are subtracted from natural white light into pigments, which are then printed on paper with tiny dots. For example, subtracting magenta from yellow will give red.
Subtractive color model
Subtractive colors start with white. Therefore, the more colors are added, the darker they will be. The reason for this is that light is absorbed or removed to create different colors.
The primary color for the CMYK color model is black (K). Adding this color helps to neutralize images and increase shadow density.
CMYK inks will not always have the same color as the original image. But there are many CMYK combinations when using which the image on paper looks like on a computer in RGB mode.
Programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign provide CMYK presets to help you find the best combination of print settings.
Why are these two modes displayed differently?
Any image is unique, so the amount of white used in it and the mixing of other colors in each model will be different. As a result, both RGB and CMYK are displayed differently.
For example, RGB offers a wider range of colors. Therefore, the file created in this model allows you to use bright, vibrant colors. When it is converted to CMYK, many of the vibrant hues look dull or cloudy.
When printing, regardless of the model used, the colors become darker. Check which formats your printer can print and collect file conversion information. All printers are different, so DPI will be different.
Which mode should I use?
Many designers still prefer to create their projects first in RGB, and then convert them to CMYK before sending them to print. This is because RGB supports a wider range of colors.
Another advantage is that RGB allows you to work with smaller files. And also that Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator are based on RGB and this model is supported on the web.
But if color accuracy is important in printed products, it is best to use CMYK. Designing in this color mode will provide a clearer picture of the finished product.
If using a digital printer, save the file in RGB format. This is the best option for printing photos. If you have a file that you want to print on a full-color offset printer, then convert to CMYK.
Before converting, save a backup copy of your file. You can flatten layers before converting, but this is not necessary.
Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign are the most common programs used to create graphic projects. They are focused on working in RGB mode.
Therefore, these editors simplify the conversion to CMYK and the installation of a specific color scheme for printing. This is done as follows:
Illustrator: File> Document Color Mode> CMYK or RGB.
InDesign: Window> Color> CMYK or RGB.
Step-by-step instructions for setting color modes for printing in Photoshop:
Step 1. Select the “Edit” menu, then the “Color Setting” item.
Step 2. Select the CMYK profile that is most suitable for printing.
Step 3. You can select the “More options” option to set the color scheme when converting RGB values to CMYK. The “perceptual” method is best suited for photographs because it preserves visual correspondence with the original image.
Step 4. Open the RGB image you want to convert.
Step 5. Make changes while the image is still in RGB mode.
Step 6. Choose View> Warn When Exceeding Gamut, to see which colors turn gray. This means that they cannot be played back in CMYK mode. Instead of these colors, Photoshop will pick the nearest shades to replace, depending on the color scheme that you set in advance.
Step 7. Choose Image> Mode> CMYK Color. Remember that after conversion, some bright colors may become dull.