RGB and CMYK Color Modes

Color, the very fabric of the visual world around us. The human eye has the ability to see over 7 million different colors, and it is only fitting that the media that are used to communicate our ideas has a variety of color possibilities.  The most widely used color mode are RGB and CMYK. Each having separate uses, qualities, and limitations.



An acronym for the pigments of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key. These pigments differ from the primary colors (Red, Green, Blue) since pigments represent colors not absorbed by a substance. This is the case for printed material. Since there is no light sources emitting waves of color which is the case for the screen of computers, phones, and televisions, CMYK which represents pigments is the proper reference to the hues produced for printed material. The primary pigments Cyan, Magenta and Yellow are mathematically related, since both printed and digital content is usually produced on a computer hat uses specific calculations when deciphering color modes. Key usually represents black, but can refer to whatever base color that is available such as dark browns and blues. When Cyan Magenta and Yellow when combined to their highest possible concentration produces black. This is because of its subtractive color mode qualities. Since CMYK produce hues that are not absorbed by printed material.


An acronym that represents the primary colors of Red, Green, Blue. The properties of these colors allow the production a variety of hues available for digital screens. All colors in the visible light spectrum. Most computers give 24 bits of possibilities producing millions of color combination. RGB is primarily used as the color mode for digital based content. From the computer screen, to the “Big” screen both used RGB. Because there is a light behind illuminating these colors they are referenced to as additive. When all combined at equal amounts white is produced.




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