Whether you are a designer, in marketing, advertising or setting up any document for print and web, it is always good to know when to use RGB and CMYK. There is confusion when it comes to these colour formats and why there are differences between the two and what is best when designing.

What is CMYK: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. When designing for printed material always have your settings in your design programme set for CMYK as your RGB is always brighter and once converted the colour will go dull. So to get the right colour from the beginning of design it is always best to start designing in CMYK for all print design work.

What is RGB: Red, Green and Blue colours on projects. Anything that is designed for the web should be done in RGB even though CMYK will still work.


The difference between screen monitors and paper is that your screen emits more coloured light and paper absorbs light.  All your screen devices, from computer monitors to your smartphones, show colour in red, green and blue light at a low-medium resolution, this makes it appear brighter and allows your screen to display a wider range of colour.

Print production always requires the four-colour process CMYK in high resolution of at least 300 dpi, remember if your colour specs are not set up properly on your computers and you are also designing in RGB then your printed material will end up looking very different to what you envisioned and what your screen shows you.

All colours can be created by mixing red, green and blue light, screen monitors are capable of displaying only a limited range on the visible spectrum and that is why your designs will appear brighter in RGB on screen. But when printing always convert your files to CMYK beforehand or they will slightly dull your colours when converted after designing. You can re-adjust before going to print but to make sure all your brochures, magazines, company stationery and even calendars come out with the best colour quality and fall in line with your company CI always keep in mind the rule behind RGB and CMYK.

Have a look at the diagram below to see how differently RGB and CMYK actually look and how vastly different your print can turn out if designed in the wrong colour format.