Even if you’re a designer or not, you may well of heard of the term’s RGB and CMYK, but what’s the difference I hear you say?


This stands for Red, Green & Blue and is used anywhere light is emitted (so things like monitors, televisions, websites, smart phones etc) in general anything that is online or on screen will be in an RGB format. So if you’re designing a website or a presentation to go on screen – always use RGB for all of your images and colours.


This stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black and is the industry standard for anything that that is printed, may that be on paper or fabric. So anything from a humble business card right the way through to an exhibition stand, this should be designed in a CMYK colour format using CMYK images and colours.

RGB and CMYK are nearly exact opposites and the overlaps of CMY circles make Red, Green and Blue and the overlaps of Red, Green and Blue make Cyan, Magenta and Yellow.


It’s worth baring in mind that the conversion from RGB to CMYK doesn’t always go as expected, so it is worth setting your colour mode correct before starting on your next project be that for print or web. Once colours are converted from RGB to CMYK these will (in the majority, if not 100% of the time), appear more dull and flat. This is because the RGB colour gamut is much wider than the CMYK gamut, meaning RGB images/colours are always much brighter and vivid. A common mistake we see on printed materials is that have been designed in CMYK but have used RGB images and this leads to dull or unexpected results on the final printed items. So it’s always worth double checking your image and colour modes before using these in your final artwork.

So what are you using?

If you are unsure then chances are you are using RGB. As a rule Microsoft products use RGB as standard, so if you are designing any work in either Word or Powerpoint then the colour mode will be in RGB, so expect these to print differently from what you see. For example, if you use a bright yellow in RGB, once converted to CMYK it will appear slightly greener as a percentage of cyan is normally added into the conversion process. So it is always best to use a professional design package when designing for print. Or at the very least, speak with your designer/printer and let them know that you have created something using these applications.

When choosing a colour for your project, we recommend visiting the colour gurus at Pantone, they have a handy colour picking guide on their site. Once you chose a colour you like, click on it and you’ll get an RGB vs CMKY breakdown to use.

Please feel free to contact us you have any questions or queries with regards to your artwork, we’d be more than happy to advise you on the best way to forward.