Print colour profiles explained
If you’re more familiar with working with a computer than with print, you may be used to using the RGB (Red, Green and Blue) colour breakdown, however, in the print world we use CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black). These are the four colours that make up the four colour printing process. You will find that an image in RGB will look a bit ‘brighter’ than the same image in CMYK, this is due to the RGB colours being backlit (as they always are on screen). You will also find that if you mixed the RGB colours together (at a 255 value), you would get white, whereas if you mixed CMYK together at 100% values, you’d get black. RGB and low resolution images are probably the most common reason why jobs fail on ‘pre-flight’ (this is the process where we make sure the job is suitable for printing).
One other thing regarding colours to consider is that of black, for text a single colour black is perfectly fine. However if you are looking to use large areas of black a single colour black can appear a bit ‘greyish’ in hue, a common solution here is to use what’s known as a rich black, or 4 colour black. As the name would suggest, this is where a 100% K black is enhanced by the addition of the other 3 print colours. The usual CMYK breakdown for a rich black is C-50% M-50% Y-50% and K-100%.
PMS Colours, PMS is the abbrevation for Pantone Matching System. Simply put, the PMS is a way of guaranteeing the appearance of a colour over a variety of materials. Commonly used by very large brands who are represented across the globe, the PMS allows you to ensure continuity by rendering your chosen colour, identically, no matter where it is, what material it is on, or what process has been used to produce it. For example, Ford use Pantone 294C in their famous blue oval logo, this ensures that the specific blue is replicated exactly the same across the world, and across any materials (signage, print, clothing etc.) in which it features. However, most brands probably don’t need that sort of colour control (which can be fairly expensive), and a traditional CMYK breakdown will suffice. As always, if you want any more info regarding this or any other area of printing, do please get in touch, collectively we have centuries (probably) worth of knowledge which we’ll gladly impart.
The infographic below details what the main differences are between CMYK, RGB and Pantone colours:
Credit for original infographic to thelogocompany.net