Hulkdesign AI

RGB or CMYK, This is a Question

Whether you are a graphic designer or client, it is important to know the difference between the RGB and CMYK color spaces. It is about knowing which one is the best for your design output. Depending on where the final design will be displayed, one color space is always preferred over the other. Never fear these acronyms again! We’re going to explain what the RGB and CMYK color modes are, how they work and when it’s best to use each.

RGB color space uses transmitted light while the CMYK color space uses reflected light.

A light source creates color by mixing red, green and blue with varying intensity, which is called additive mixing: starting with black, red, green, and blue light is added on top brighten it with colors. When red, green and blue light is mixed at equal intensity, it will be pure white. A printer combines CMYK colors with ink, which is called subtractive mixing: starting with white, ink layer reduces the initial brightness to create color.

Use the RGB color space if your design will be displayed on screen (with only a few exceptions) including computers, smartphones, tablets, TVs, cameras, etc. Use CMYK for design that will be printed, instead of being viewed on a screen. 

Compared with RGB, CMYK colors are darker because they are not created by light, which means CMYK will produce a different color range than RGB. Certain RGB colors seen on screen cannot be reproduced by CMYK ink. This is why when picking color space for print, it is recommended to use CMYK. If your design is in RGB space, it can still be converted into CMYK. 

Convert RGB to CMYK

The conversion is simple and can be done in most image editing softwares. Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop can make the conversion in just a few clicks. Here’s a step-by-step guide.

#1: Open Adobe illustrator and the bar on the upper left corner will show current color mode “RGB/GPU Preview”, which means your design is now in RGB mode.

#2: Click “File”-> “Document Color Mode” , You will notice that there is a tick on RGB color as shown below, so you can correct it by picking the CMYK Color option. (File>Document Color Mode>CMYK Color)

#3: The bar on the upper left tab will show “CMYK/GPU Preview” now and the design is now in CMYK.  Noticeablly, the color will be a bit darker.

You now know the RGB & CMYK color spaces and how to convert them to get better printing result. You are better equipped to communicate with Hulkdesign designers to get quality designs.


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