RGB vs CMYK vs Pantone – Which Color Standard Should You Use?
Wednesday 11 May 2011 | Keith J. Hamilton10 Comments
RGB? CMYK? The average Joe will probably get overwhelmed by this onslaught of initials. A good graphic designer however, should know what they are, how they work, what are their limitations and more importantly, which one should they use for a particular design project. In today’s post, I will try to answer these questions so that designers can be better equipped for future design projects and undertake them with confidence.
The very first and basic thing that every logo designer should know about RGB and CMYK is that these are essentially color standards used in creating logos, banners and images. Each has its own strengths as well as limitations, which should be kept in mind when working on a design project.
RGB Color Standard – Ideal for Digital Display
RGB refers to three primary colors, Red, Green and Blue, also referred to as additive colors. Logo designers use them in mixed variations to create a magnitude of different shades for their design drafts. These colors are sharp, appealing and stand out more. Hence they are very popular in the design community. RGB colors excel in displaying images and graphics on monitors, TV’s and scanning devices. This makes them a great choice for images that are displayed online such as a company website or an online brochure.
CMYK Color Standard – Industry Standard for Print Media
In direct contrast to RGB, the CMYK colors are known as subtractive colors and represent Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black respectively. Notice that the CMYK abbreviation uses the letter ‘K’ to denote Black instead of the letter ‘B’. This is done to prevent people from confusing it with the color Blue which also uses the letter ‘B’.
CMYK is the de facto standard in the print world. Companies interested in printing their logo on different materials such as T-shirts, coffee mugs, caps and business cards, prefer their designs in CMYK. They are perfect for stationery, garments and other forms of marketing collateral.
So Which Color Standard Should You Use?
At first glance, it would seem that RGB would be the way to go and for good reason. Who wouldn’t want a nifty crispy logo for their website? We see hundreds of RGB drafts submitted on MycroBurst.com everyday. However there is a problem with this approach. Designers are assuming that companies will be using their logo for online purposes only and not for off line print media – Wrong assumption.
The Limitations of RGB and CMYK
One word – Interchangeability.
Most companies prefer having the flexibility of using their logo for both online and offline marketing mediums. However due to the bright nature of RGB colors, RGB images do not convert smoothly and hence do not come out well in printed form making the image look noticeably blurred. Similarly, CMYK colors lack the sharp look of RGB images online. In many cases it is close to impossible to convert a CMYK file to RGB color standard and vice versa.
This would conclude that RGB should be used for digital purposes while CMYK should be implemented for printing mediums. However, if clients are undecided on the utilization of their logo or prefer having both options open, there is a better solution that offers designers more freedom and saves them time and money – Pantone.
Pantone Color Pallet – Setting the Tone
Pantone colors provide logo designers with the flexibility to convert their design files to RGB or CMYK as they see fit without sacrificing image quality, color depth and detail. Creating designs in Pantone saves them precious time, money and resources. This is a color pallet that MycroBurst.com designers should implement in their designs, preferably Pantone Solid Coated.
Remember guys, a good graphic designer works harder and smarter at the same time. Devote yourself to every project you are involved with, but keep your design options flexible and versatile. Be Smart. Choose Pantone!