New Video: Jakprints Print Talk: CMYK vs RGB

This post was published and formated for an old version of the blog.

As part of our newest educational series we are looking at the differences between CMYK and RGB color modes and what print processes they work best for.


In this video we are going to discuss the difference between RGB and CMYK printing and when we use it.

CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. We use CMYK for printing in our Full Color Paper Printing department.

RGB stands for Red, Green and Blue. We use RGB and spot colors for our Apparel Screen Printing department. CMYK’s color spectrum is not as broad as RGB’s, which somewhat limits what colors can be produced in print. The images on a computer screen are light-based from the RGB model, not true to print results of CMYK.

The differences between CMYK and RGB are more than just using different base colors. RGB uses Red, Green and Blue light in an Additive process. More light, means more brightness.

In screen printing, you keep printing the same color over top of itself over and over, it’s going to get brighter and brighter.

Contrary to CMYK which is a subtractive process, adding more ink means less brightness. This is the main source of their different color gamuts. CMYK inks are ideal for Full Color Paper Printing due to its wide-range of tones. In particular, pleasing skin tones. As for screen printing-Spot colors are based-on the Pantone system of around 2,500 colors. Typically however, colors will not have a dramatic difference. If color is a major concern a “hard copy proof” can be requested. This allows a physical visualization of how the colors will print in CMYK compared to how they look on a RGB screen display. We accept RGB colors for screen printing as we custom match each order to specific pantone spot colors. When designing for Full Color Offset Printing–files created in RGB color mode will need to be converted to CMYK and may cause color shifting as the color gamut in CMYK is narrower than RGB.

RGB mode works perfect for Apparel Printing.

Digital Proofing (or Soft-Proofing) is on screen and not color accurate. If color is a concern for a Full Color print, a hard copy proof is necessary. Hard Proofs are calibrated to our press. It’s the only way to guarantee color. Digital or Hard Copy Proofing is recommended to ensure that your project is being printed as intended.

For more in-depth info visit our website @ for design templates, FAQs, pricing and more. Rather talk to a person? We have those, too. Give us a call, we’re happy to help.


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