RGB vs CMYK
If there was one thing we all learned from “the dress”, is that two people can be looking at the same thing, and can see something very different. The dress divided our shop half of us saw it as gold and white, the other half as black and blue. Our graphics team was not surprised. Every day they deal with color, the perception of color, and managing clients expectations.
Walk into any electronics store and make your way to the television section. Every TV is tuned the same channel, receiving the exact same signal. However, each screen looks different. Some of the TVs have vibrant colors, seemingly perfectly balanced. Others seem too red, or too green. The difference in color and picture quality has just as much to do with the hardware and brand of the television as it does with the individual settings of the device.
Electronic devices produce color by emitting light. They combine the primary colors of red, green and blue. When combined these three colors produce secondary colors of cyan, magenta, and yellow. White is not technically a color, it is achromatic. To achieve white, devices combine red, green and blue in equal quantities. Wild right? Devices are backlit and emit light. Each monitor or device translates this information slightly different. So, that lime green you are seeing on your iPhone may look pea green on your laptop.
Graphic designers, including the ones that work at Just Buttons, generally have calibration devices and software installed on their machines. This ensures that they are seeing the color accurately. The problem lies in that most people haven’t calibrated their screens, nor do they have the need. Most people don’t think much about color until they have to reproduce it.
Complicating matters is the printing process. When we print we print using a four color process called CMYK, cyan, magenta, yellow and black. The color you perceive on the printed pages is the result of light reflecting, not emitting. All colors within the CMYK spectrum are created by combining these four colors. When you mix all the colors, the result is gray. There are colors that are visible on your monitor (RGB), which simply cannot be reproduced with CMYK.
Some colors translate from RGB to CMYK with little to no shift. However, other colors, like fluorescents, metallics, bright greens and some teals, do not convert well and a dramatic color shift occurs. Which is when a client laments that it looked different on their screen. To ensure you are seeing the closest approximation of color on your device, be sure to convert your RGB file to CMYK. If you don’t know how to do this, give us a call 1-800-564-2924, one of our staff members will walk you through the process.
Not only do we come up against monitors displaying color differently, sometimes the colors they are displaying cannot be reproduced! Which is why Pantone created their Pantone library.
Pantone is great because a client can be looking at a Pantone book in their office in California, and we can be looking at the same chip in our office in Connecticut. When we are both looking at the same chip, hopefully (unlike the dress) we are seeing the same thing.
When choosing a Pantone number several factors need to be considered. Will you be printing digitally or offset? How does the color translate from coated to uncoated, and to CMYK? What comes as a surprise to some clients is how different the CMYK Pantone equivalent is from the process color. Also, some colors are only available on coated stock, and our machines only use uncoated stock. If you have the right Pantone book(s) you can see both colors side by side.
In the event that we need to have an exact color that we cannot match digitally, we do have a partnership with a local offset print shop, however, this option does come with a premium price tag.
At Just Buttons, we make every effort to get the color wanted right the first time. We push our machines and people to their limits. Have a color question or concern, give us a call at 1-800-564-2924 or email us. We will make every effort to get you exactly what you want.