white sketchbook showing title: What's the difference between RGB & CMYK and when should you use them?

What’s the difference between RGB & CMYK, and when should I use them?

A client question I've heard is, what’s the difference between RGB & CMYK, and when should I use them?

Both of these represent different ways of mixing basic colors to get every color in the spectrum (throw out what you know about the “primary colors” being blue, yellow, red ). Read on for why/when to use and an example of what using the wrong file type looks like.

✅ RGB stands for “red green blue” and adds colors together to make all the others.
✅ It’s used for digital designs such as website graphics, social media images, video graphics, etc.
✅ Commonly used file types are JPEG and PNG
✅ Bottom line: if what you’re creating will go on a screen, use RGB

✅ CYMK stands for “cyan magenta yellow black” (fun fact: the “K” is from the last letter of “black”) and it subtracts colors from each other to make all the others
✅ It’s used for print designs such as business cards, store signage, and flyers.
✅ Commonly used file types are PDF, AI and EPS.
✅ Bottom line: if you’re sending something to a professional printer, always use CMYK

Now look at what happens when you save a jpeg as a CMYK and use it on a website. On my computer before uploaded it, it looked exactly the same, but here on my WordPress website, the green looks way too bright! Unless you love highlighter colors, be sure to save your web graphics as RGB!!


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