RGB and CMYKOctober 14th, 2011 | Posted by in Misc
Question: Why can’t you print the rich, vibrant color I see on my screen?
The RGB color you see on your screen is controlled by 256 levels of brightness for each color (Red, Green, and Blue). So, you have nearly 17 million potential colors available (256 x 256 x 256). With CMY (Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow), you have only 100 levels of brightness available with each color (1%–100%), so you end up with only 1 million potential colors available (100 x 100 x 100). So RGB has a ton more color options in its range (or gamut) than CMY does. Artwork that is produced on a computer in RGB mode needs to be converted to CMY(K) before it can be printed. (Black [K] is added to CMY to produce greater detail and richer blacks than can be achieved by CMY alone.) So in the conversion process from RGB to CMYK, there is a necessary color shift that takes place. This unfortunately results in colors that are more muted and less vibrant than what you see on your screen. It is simply not possible to reproduce many of colors that you can see on your monitor because they lay outside of the possible color range of CMYK. (Also, there are some colors in the CMYK range that cannot be represented in RGB on a computer monitor.)
Feel free to produce your art in RGB mode, but we recommend that you convert it to CMYK before sending it to us so that you can see the color shift and how the colors will most likely turn out when printed. This will reduce surprises and disappointment, especially if you are counting on a certain color that cannot be produced by the CMYK printing process.