Color guide for printing

Color helps us form judgments, make decisions and evoke emotion. Explore the multifaceted aspects of colour with us, and learn what you need to consider for your next batch of prints.

 

 

 

The difference between RGB and CMYK

Our system accepts RGB (Red, Green and Blue) color files. It will automatically convert them to their CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) equivalents for printing. But color conversion is not always perfect.

Digital devices like computer screens, TVs and phones use an RGB color profile. An RGB profile uses light to make different colors, not ink. To reproduce RGB files in print, you must convert them to a CMYK format. Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black ink blends to make your artwork printer-friendly. You can read about the differences between these two color profiles here. And you can reference our CMYK values and formula charts to ensure you get bright, vivid colors when printing.

The RGB colour model

 

The CMYK colour model
 

 

Converting RGB to CMYK

Unfortunately, you cannot convert RGB to CMYK colors directly. When switching from light to ink, some RGB colors are impossible to reproduce in CMYK.

But color conversion is still possible. Our conversion guide will demonstrate how to do this in an easy-to-read format. Before submitting any artwork, you will have full-color control when printing, including manually adjusting tricky colors.

Colour model menu options
 

Standard black vs rich black

Litho printing has two main ways to produce black: standard black and rich black. In CMYK printing, standard black only uses black ink. Rich black, by contrast, uses a mix of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black to create a richer, more intense color. Note that when converting from RGB or grayscale to CMYK - you will get rich black in your prints.

Occasionally, we recommend standard black over rich black. We recommend this option because if your print work includes fine details, like small text or speech bubbles in Comic Books

Even in a full-color CMYK project, you should always use standard black. Otherwise, you run the considerable risk of ghosting. Ghosting occurs when the four ink plates needed to make rich black produce microscopic variations that result in unwanted blurred shadows. But you can check out our comprehensive standard vs rich black guide for more information on this topic. Our color vs black and white printing page will also show you examples of when it’s better to print blacks in full color to achieve an intense black.

 

 

The RGB colour model
RGB color model

 

The CMYK colour model
CMYK color model
 

Color matching

Colors on a screen appear different compared to those on a printed page. Screens emit light, whereas print reflects it. Your choice of paper and finish can also affect the appearance of your colors.

CMYK ink can produce very slight color variances between print runs - and minute color variances within different copies on the same run. If color is critical to your project, contact us, and our print experts will give you the guidance you need to get the desired results.

In litho printing, very subtle color gradients can get lost, especially when ink saturations are very high. When this happens, your artwork can look darker than it appears on the computer screen.

If your ink saturation values are too high, the printed result can also appear darker than expected. This result is especially true with deep blues and blacks. You may like how they appear on a backlit screen, but they can appear much darker in print if your overall saturations exceed 300%.

In the case of single-color saturations, light ink coverage under 10% may not print at all, while over 90% coverage may produce a solid color. But our ink saturation and density guide will explain how to avoid extreme values and ensure every detail of your print is visible.

Spectrum of colour samples