When it comes to printing in colour, you’ll see the terms CMYK, RGB and PMS very often. But, what do all these terms mean? What’s the difference between them? And when should you use which? This article answers all these questions for you, so you can print your logo doubt-free for your next order.
What are printing colours?
When you have to print your logo, image or text onto a product, printing colours are required. Depending on the product and printing technique, your print can end up consisting of 1, 2, 3, 4 or more colours in total. In general, we distinguish between three color systems: CMYK, PMS, and RGB. The CMYK and PMS (Pantone®) systems are used to printing RGB and digital media. Read below to learn about the differences and when you should choose which.
The RGB colour system is used for digital media, or when something is made to be viewed on a screen (tv, phone, computers, etc.), like a powerpoint, webpage, or similar. The RGB system consists of the basic color (black) and three other colors: red, green and blue, hence the name RGB. When all these colours come together and are maxed out, they result in the color ‘white’ in this system.
Examples of RGB colours
RGB black: 0.0,0
RGB white 255, 255, 255
RGB red 100, 0, 0
The abbreviation CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (black). By mixing these colours in different amounts, countless different colours are possible. The colour black has been added because mixing 100% Cyan, 100% Magenta and 100% Yellow does not produce a nice black colour. The CMYK colour system is used for full-colour printing. Printers also use the CMYK colours.
Examples of CMYK colours
CMYK black: 0, 0, 0, 100
CMYK True black: 75, 68, 67, 90
CMYK white: 0, 0, 0, 0
CMYK red: 0, 100, 100, 0
PMS colours (Pantone®)
PMS or Pantone® Matching System is a fixed set of colours that have already been mixed. These colours have all been given their own PMS colour code. When developing a logo or house style, Pantone colours are often chosen, because then you have more certainty about the right colours. CMYK can approximate many colours, but not all colours. Certain colours, including shades of orange, simply don’t look as beautiful with CMYK as with Pantone®. You can determine the PMS colour using a color chart. For example, Pantone® has made a handy online colour chart available with colour codes with which you can easily determine the colour. Currently, the Pantone® Matching System has more than 1500 colours. So plenty of choice!
Examples of PMS/Pantone® colours
PMS black : Black 6 c
PMS white: 000C
PMS red: 1788
When do you choose which printing colour?
As you can read above, RGB colours are used for screens and CMYK and Pantone colours for print. But when do you choose CMYK and when do you choose a Pantone colour? When you use one to four colours in your design, Pantone colours are very suitable. Think of your logo, business cards or letterhead. Because Pantone® has a universal colour palette, you can be sure that the colors are always the same. So if consistency is important, choose Pantone® colours. You use CMYK when your design contains many colours. For example, think of photos or images with different shades and colors.
Pantone® colours in your logo? Choose the correct color
Would you like to have promotional items or business gifts printed with your logo and does the logo contain specific Pantone® colours? Provide us with the correct PMS colour codes and we’ll make sure they’re used. This way you can be certain you chose the right colours.
Convert your print file so it’s logo-ready? We got you!
Have you read the above information and your print file does not yet contain the correct colour? For example, do you want to convert the file from RGB colours to CMYK or from CMYK to PMS colors? No problem at all. Our graphical department arranges this for you, so that you always have a product with the right printing colours.
Do you want to know how we ensure a print that stays beautiful for an extra long time? Read the article about long-lasting printing-techniques. Do you need help determining the right printing or printing colour? Please feel free to contact us for advice.