Custom Printing: RGB vs. CMYK

When last we met to discuss custom printing, we were exploring process color vs. spot color.  Today we will venture further into the world of color space.  Color space is one of the most often misunderstood terms.  Also called a color model, it  refers to the range of colors, or gamut, that a device can reproduce.

Professional design programs offer different options for color set up and those options have specific purposes.  RGB (which stands for Red, Green, Blue) color space is for screen display - it is not for use in printed material.  

Why not, you ask?  


RBG colors are created using light and can create an enormous number of colors.  You would use RGB if you were designing something that will only be viewed on a monitor - such as a web site or a digital newsletter that you were going to email to your clients.  Printing presses print with ink, not light, so they can't reproduce all of the colors in the RGB spectrum.  When RGB is converted to CMYK, some RGB colors (especially really bright ones) will be out of gamut - lost in the conversion process.  Office Express' digital workflow will automatically convert any RGB images to CMYK, but the results may not be what you expect.  We recommend that you convert all images to CMYK (at the standard SWOP setting) prior to sending them to us.  This also includes any bitmap images.  That way you will have a better idea of how they will actually print.

That's really all there is to it.  Remember to create your files in CMYK if it's going to be printed.  If you have question or need help, call the print department at 877-795-2600 and ask to speak with one of our graphic designers - we're here to help!