What Colour Profiles Do I Use For Print?
CMYK = Cyan Magenta Yellow & Black These Are The Colours Used In Traditional Printing
CMYK is an abbreviation of cyan, magenta, yellow and key (black – yes, we know it should be CMYB in that case). These are the four process colours commonly used when printing.
RGB refers to red, green, blue (yes, this abbreviation is sensible) and is used in online design.
Top tip - We highly recommend using CMYK images in your designs and setting up any documents as CMYK documents. You can use RGB but any artwork provided in RGB format will automatically be converted to CMYK in our workflow, and this may result in a small colour shift. You might want to think about getting a proof.
Colour settings are easy to change within the design platforms you use. For Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator, you can change the colour setting in the proof set up menu, under view. For other design platforms, simply check the document settings.
Colour challenges giving you a headache? This is why your printed colours are not matching when you use RGB formats: Learn more about how different color formats affect your print.
Other colour terminology you might come across:
What are HEX codes?
A hex code is the number following a hashtag which tells you very specifically which colour you are using. It might look like this #2b2b2b and you can find it when you pick or pipette colours within a design platform. They are used in digital design for web set to RGB rather than CMYK design.
What are Pantone®colours?
A pantone is a standardised colour matching system specifically for the print industry to identify ink colours. They are used to best match the colours within a design, so the print is a true reflection of the proof.
What are colour swatches
Colour swatches are swatches of specific colours, tints, or gradients that you are using in your design piece. Many design platforms keep a record of the most common colours, but you can create your own. Colour swatches come in very handy when you have specific brand guidelines to follow.
What is CIELAB l* a* b*?
This is another way of managing colour and this particular colour profiling approximates to the best match for the human eye.