• June 20, 2019

RGB vs. CMYK vs. PMS Colors

  • Written by Printing Professional

It is important to understand the difference between RGB, CMYK, and PMS colors when preparing artwork for print.  In order to produce the most accurate printed color, files have to be started and finished in the CMYK or PMS color space.  Artwork files that are setup in RGB will most likely have a color shift and will produce undesired results when printed.  As a printing company, we see artwork developed in Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, and Publisher (defaults to RGB but you can convert to CMYK) that are done in RGB.  PDF files generated from these programs tend to be problematic with regard to color.

Here are colors in CMYK:

rgb cmyk print color

Here are the same colors in RGB:

rgb cmyk print color

What is RGB?

RGB stands for red, green, and blue.  RGB artwork is commonly found in websites and Microsoft documents.  Typically, scanners and digital cameras create RGB images.  You will need to convert them to CMYK to print them with a commercial printing service. Some colors found in the RGB color space do not exist in the CMYK or PMS color space.

What is CMYK?

CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.  Common terms associated with CMYK are four-color, process color, and full color.  Most commercial printing companies operate in this color space. Some colors found in the CMYK color space do not exist in the RGB or PMS color space.

What is a PMS color?

PMS stands for pantone matching system.  This system is commonly used to match a certain color. Another term that you will hear when dealing with PMS color projects is “spot color.”  A swatch book is commonly used, and the colors are printed on coated and uncoated stock.  PMS colors are actually custom mixed to achieve the PMS color.  Typical desktop printers are unable to produce PMS colors accurately.

Feel free to contact us should you have any document printing questions.  Accent Printing is a resource that offers print management solutions.