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Amie Baker Creative is a boutique graphic design studio focused on helping businesses and their brands through visual identities, print design and web design.

RGB, CMYK or PMS? Confused?

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Pink is pink, right? It depends on who you ask and where it will be displayed. When you define your brand colors, you accept the responsibility to maintain consistency. I’ll break down the uses for each color conversion and how to use them.

RGB: This is a color build specifically for web use and media display. You’ll want to make sure all image and colors you use online have RGB builds or you’ll leave quality to chance when auto- conversion is attempted. I’ll warn you that it won’t be pretty.
Common uses: Web banner ads, website images, social media, digital presentations

CMYK: This is a color build specifically for print. Like RGB, if you don’t use a CMYK build for your print needs you will run into issues. In general, RGB prints fine on a home printer but not on a quality press. A great designer and print partner will help you avoid these struggles.
Common uses: Print materials, packaging

PMS: This color build is also known as Pantone or Spot colors. This is a universal color matching system. You’ll pick from a book of colors in a swatchbook. Defining a PMS color is powerful because it will be your tool to maintain a consistent color through all of your marketing pieces. If you select a PMS color first, you can break this color into a CMYK build and an RGB build for your use. You’ll need to know when to use each color for the appropriate medium.
Common uses: Press Runs that require an exact color match, A specific PMS swatch needed in addition to your CMYK print run, T-shirts, Collateral

If you find your head still spinning, don’t worry! You can give me a shout and I’ll be happy to help.

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2 thoughts on “RGB, CMYK or PMS? Confused?

  1. Just wanted to add that :

    CMYK = Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (black)
    RGB = Red, Green, Blue
    PMS = Pantone Matching System

    This printing colors Infographic is very helpful – http://visual.ly/printing-terms-color-quick-guide

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