Differences between RGB and CMYK color modes



Have you ever printed and not obtained the desired colors? This is because there are different color models: digital and printed. The first is called RGB and is used for digital media such as computer screens or television. The second is CMYK and is applied to printed materials, such as flyers, banners or posters.


The RGB model uses the primary colors red, green, and blue and uses a process called additive synthesis, which means that the color is projected with light, while CMYK uses the colors cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, but is printed using light, subtractive synthesis, which uses light reflected from objects to display the colors they repel. In a more summarized way: the digital format emits light and the print absorbs and repels it.

The digital format emits light, while the printed format absorbs and repels it.

Its main difference at first glance is the chromatic intensity that each one can reach. Its saturation. And it is that the RGB model can reproduce almost 17 million different colors, while the CMYK is limited to one million. Printing is stricter, so sometimes we don't get the result we expected.


To avoid surprises that can lead to a loss of money, we must always pay attention to the format of the document on which we are working. In Adobe programs it is very easy to select the color model we want to work with. For example, in Photoshop it will be enough to go to Image > Mode and select the one we want and in Illustrator we will have to display the Edit > Color Settings menu and establish the one that suits us best.