Why CMYK vs. RGB based on a different theory

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RGB, CMYK, Additive, Subtractive, color space

Once we are ready to go for print in a printing company, first prepress department(artwork department) collects art for a job. And the job or we can say artwork need to be print which is in any given file is RGB (Red/Green/Blue) color space.

But the printing technology based on CMYK (Cyan/Magenta/Yellow/Black) practically. The printing plates made on the separation of CMYK technology or maybe some additional color plates. So what’s the difference? Certainly, in the case of the image here, the RGB image is more vivid, colorful, and better looking. So what’s the problem? Why printing press can’t use RGB?

The theory is different; RGB and CMYK are inverses of each other — additive and subtractive color-based method.   

1. RGB means – When you combine all colors in the spectrum collectively, you get white. And same as you perceive color in your eye and the same will be reflected in computer monitors, and TV screens present color. RGB, necessarily, is based on light.

2. CMYK fundamentally based on ink. In CMY color mixes together, we get the black color. 

For Ex; whenever you’ve ever mixed paint color at home painting kit. And accidentally get the black paint when you tried to mix too many hues. The concept is the same. 

While RGB adds more extra light to create brighter colors, CMYK receives (subtracts) light, generating darker tones. 

The problem comes into working because Adobe Photoshop, the most widely adopted program for graphic design, chooses the RGB color space by default when creating a new file. So, It’s an obvious choice — most design work performed for media that’s seen on a screen (light-based color). And RGB has a broader range of colors. 

Most designers don’t give it a second thought. But these are significant concerns to a printer to try to match the vivid colors with a more bound color spectrum. 

Depending on the image, a lot of hand-operated adjustments required to reflect the color to which resembling the original RGB image. The problem is more than that also if the printer can color-correct the image back into an agreeable range. It can take an unnecessary amount of time — which indicates a higher cost for both customer and printer.

The most reliable solution is to design in CMYK from the beginning directly. If this is not possible, transform the source images to CMYK before transferring to the printer so you can see how much of a difference will make.

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