Cyan, magenta, yellow and black – the four base colors that make up the CMYK color model.
In order to truly appreciate the CMYK color model, you must understand RGB color.
The RGB color model consists of red, green and blue. This is what you see on your computer screen and how you view your designs before they are printed. They can only be seen with natural or produced light, like in your computer monitor, not on a printed page.
The CMYK color model is formed when two RGB colors are mixed equally, which are known as subtractive primaries.
Red + Green = Yellow
Red + Blue = Magenta
Green + Blue = Cyan
Black cannot be created with the three subtractive primaries – K, or “key”, stands for Black.
Four color process printing is a system where a color image is separated into four different color values by the use of filters and screens. Each of the four base colors has it’s own printing plate that produces small dots of cyan, magenta, yellow and black are printed at different angles to actually create the printed image.
Although, the final printed piece will be in CMYK, graphic designers actually work on-screen in RGB. Most commercial printers require all digital files to be converted to CMYK before sending. CMYK and RBG colors are close, but not exactly identical.
Most designers consider color matching extremely important and will utilize color swatches to ensure consistency. For example, a company’s logo and branding collateral may use a very specific “Goldfish Orange” where even the slighted shift will be recognizable. Color swatches give both designer and client the a printed example of exactly what their color choice will look like on paper. Though the color you see on-screen may be different, you’ll know what to expect once your project is finalized and printed.
At Falco Design, we always require proofs before running the entire job to ensure consistency every time.