See the Difference Between the RGB and CMYK Color Models

Trevor English

If you have ever used a photo editing software, you have probably had to choose whether you wanted to use RGB or CYMK, but what's the difference? RGB stands for Red, Green, Blue and it is typically used in screens and digital media. RGB may sound familiar because it is the three colors which pixels operate in. The screens we look at every day are made up of RGB pixels, and you can achieve a lot of detail with this color model. CMYK, on the other hand, stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key. Oh, you didn't know that Key was a color? Well, Key is actually black, and it is used for the details in the final image. CYMK is used for printed works, where using black throughout can achieve greater detail. Check out the video below for a more in-depth look at the difference.

It is important to understand the difference in color models if you work with online or printed media. For example, if you were designing a book cover, you would want to use CYMK since the final product is going to be displayed in print. This same concept is applied when you are looking to design digital media.

Another big difference between the color models is the way they create colors. RGB is an additive system, where each color adds together to create individual colors. CYMK, is a subtractive system, where each color subtracted from full to create colors moving towards white. When designing with CYMK on an RGB screen, the final product may not turn out exactly like what it looked like on your screen, so be careful.

VIDEO colors rgb[Image Source: Express Cards]

Hopefully by now, you have grasped the difference between the two color models, and understand why they are important in their respective forms of media. If you haven't, just remember this: RGB is Digital, CYMK is printed.

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