Choosing the Right Color Scheme for Printing and the Internet

If you’ve ever printed or ordered business cards or calendars to be printed, you’ve probably heard of CMYK, RGB, and Pantone color schemes. It is important to understand them so that your logo and other elements of your visual identity can be displayed correctly both in print and online. We have prepared a detailed guide so you can learn how to use the patterns correctly.

The Difference Between CMYK, RGB, and Pantone Color Schemes

The colors on the screen are different from the colors on the paper. To understand what causes this, let’s look at the three main color patterns.

CMYK

The scheme is named after the four colors that make it up: cyan (Cyan), magenta (Magenta), yellow (Yellow), and black (black). By combining these colors, it is possible to create different color schemes for color printing. CMYK is used in both conventional printers and graphic printers.

See How It Works

Do you remember, when you were a kid, the art classes in school when you mixed paints on a blank sheet of paper? This is how CMYK works: minimum intensity of four colors gives white and maximum intensity creates black.

Ink is printed on paper through dots that the printer applies one on top of the other in different combinations. If you use a magnifying glass to enlarge the printed product, you can see the colored dots that created the desired tones.

RGB

The color of this text you are reading on your screen is created using the RGB color standard: red (Red), green (Green), and blue (Blue). The combination of these colors gives us the millions of shades we see on the screens of our electronic devices, such as computers, cell phones, and TV sets.

See How It Works

When the red, green, and blue colors are mixed at full intensity, the screen pixels will turn white. When there is no color on the screen, the pixels will be black. With the RGB standard, tones are formed by combining the colors in the scheme: for example, red + green = yellow; and blue + green = cyan. However, it should be mentioned that all screens have different color rendering capabilities: the green Starbucks logo or the yellow and blue IKEA logo will look different when viewed on an iMac, Asus, or Samsung screen.

Pantone

This is the name of the company that created the international standardized color matching system – Pantone Matching System (PMS). Each one is given a unique number to avoid inconsistencies during printing. You can be sure that the color Marsala 18-1438 printed in New York will look exactly the same as printed in Berlin and Shanghai.

See How It Works

Combinations of 13 basic colors and black offer over 2,000 unique shades.

Where to Use Each Color Scheme

Each of the three patterns has its own tone codes. Once you’ve identified and defined your brand’s corporate colors, write the codes in CMYK, RGB, and Pantone to see how well-known companies like Audi or FedEx do it. Read on to find out how to put it all into practice.

CMYK

Use this pattern to print business cards, brochures, posters, postcards, calendars, and packaging. This will prevent the colors you work with from displaying incorrectly on the Internet.

RGB

Suitable for any digital product: apps, websites, social media profiles, and online advertising. It will convey a great diversity of colors.

Pantone

Use this pattern to avoid misunderstandings between web studios and print graphics. All you need to do is tell the code to the designer or printer. In print shops, the CMYK equivalent color will be chosen for each Pantone color.

What you need to know about preprinting a logo

Imagine that you have designed a logo on your computer and now you are going to print it on business cards or on sheets of letterhead. To get the desired result, follow these simple steps:

  • The simpler a logo’s color scheme, the easier it will be to reproduce it properly. Shopify, an online branding generator, can help you choose the right colors for your logo. The service has ready-made color palettes, so all you need to do is use the ones that best match your corporate identity.
  • Change the color scheme from RGB to CMYK before sending the file to the printer. This can be done in most graphic editors such as Illustrator, Photoshop, or InDesign.
  • Save a backup copy of the image before conversion as the RGB color values ​​will change. If you do not save the file in RGB, you will lose the color information for displaying your logo in digital format (screens).

Choosing the Logo Printing Method

It depends on which shades you want, the expected run, and how urgently you need the result.

Offset printing

Offset means that the way of printing is indirect and has to do with its principle. The ink first passes through an intermediate cylinder and only then goes to the paper. This method achieves excellent quality and color rendering. The offset method is divided into two types depending on the type of color used (composite colors or solid colors).

The solid color method does not require color separation. These are any of the four CMYK colors as well as neon, bronze, silver, or complex shades from the Pantone palette. This method provides quality results and is suitable for the following cases:

  • When the logo has few colors (preferably one or two);
  • A Pantone standard color has been chosen and you want it to be reproduced as accurately as possible.

The composite color method requires color separation, so this method is used to print multi-color images.

Both methods can be combined in one product. For example, for the logo on letterhead, the solid color method can be used, while the composite color method can be applied to a photo printed on the same letterhead.

Fingerprint

It’s all about printing on any digital printer, from a standard home printer to a professional one. In this case, you save time on prepress (separation and color adjustment), but you don’t get perfect quality. We advise you to use this type of printing in the following cases:

  • You need a small print run, for example, 20 business cards or 5 calendars (in this case offset will be very expensive);
  • You want your order to be processed quickly;
  • Also, You don’t have to play complex tones.

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