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Differences between RGB and CMYK color schemes

Last Updated : 05 Jul, 2022
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Both RGB and CMYK are color schemes used for mixing color in graphic design. CMYK and RGB colors are rendered differently depending on which medium they are used for, mainly electronic-based or print based. 

1. RGB Color Scheme : 
RGB stands for Red Green Blue. It is the color scheme for digital images. RGB color mode is used if the project is to be displayed on any screen. RGB color scheme is used in electronic displays such as LCD, CRT, cameras, scanners, etc. 

This color scheme is an additive type mode that combines the colors:- red, green, and blue, in various degrees which creates a variety of different colors. When all three colors are combined and displayed to the fullest degree, the combination gives us white color, for example for white combination will be RGB (255, 255, 255). When all three colors are combined to their lowest degree or value, the result is black, for example for black combination is RGB (0, 0, 0). 

RGB color Scheme offers the widest range of colors and hence preferred in many computer softwares. 

Uses of RGB Color Scheme – 

  • Used when project involves digital screens like computers, mobile, TV etc.
  • Used in web and application design.
  • Used in online branding.
  • Used in social media. 

2. CMYK Color Scheme : 
CMYK stands for Cyan Magenta Yellow Key (Black). It is the color scheme used for projects including printed materials. This color mode uses the colors cyan, magenta, yellow and black as primary colors which are combined in different extents to get different colors. 

This color scheme is a subtractive type mode that combines the colors:- cyan, magenta, yellow and black in various degrees which creates a variety of different colors. A printing machine creates images by combining these colors with physical ink. when all colors are mixed with 0% degree white color is created, exp CMYK(0%, 0%, 0%, 0%) for white, when all colors are mixed, we get the black color. 

Uses of CMYK Color scheme – 

  • Used when project involves physically printed designs etc.
  • Used in physical branding like business cards etc.
  • Used in advertising like posters, billboards, flyers etc.
  • Used in cloth branding like t-shirts etc. 

When to use which color scheme? 

  • If the project involves printing something, such as a business cards, poster, or a newsletter, use CMYK scheme.
  • If the project involves something that will only be seen digitally, use RGB Scheme. 

Differences between RGB and CMYK color schemes: 

RGB Color Scheme CMYK Color Scheme
Used for digital works. Used for print works.
Primary colors: Red, Green, Blue Primary Colors: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black
Additive Type Mixing Subtractive Type Mixing.
Colors of images are more vibrant Colors are less vibrant.
RGB Scheme has wider range of colors than CMYK CMYK has lesser range of colors than RGB.
file formats:- JPEG, PNG, GIF etc. file formats:- PDF, EPS etc
Basically it is used for online logos, online ads, digital graphics, photographs for website, social media, or apps etc. Basically it is used for business cards, stationary, stickers, posters, brochures etc.

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