Color Modes

See the differences in color modes. We'll discuss color consideration, issues and, concerns.

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Written by Julie
Updated over a week ago

When setting up artwork for your Primoprint project, make sure all your files are in CMYK (process) color and not RGB or Pantone PMS.

Color Considerations
It’s important to note that printed colors will never 100% match what you see on a screen. Colors on your computer screen are RGB, and always appear brighter than printed colors. These colors are refractive, meaning that they are created by light passing through and have millions of possible combinations.

Printing, on the other hand, uses ink, which is reflective. It is reflective due to light is bouncing off of something instead of passing through. There are not as many color combinations possible with CMYK color.

Pantone PMS is a spot color system developed for the printing industry in 1963. It differs from CMYK, and currently not used by Primoprint. CMYK uses a blend of cyan, yellow magenta, and black to create the desired colors for your print project. Spot colors use one color to represent each color in your artwork.

RGB Color Issues
Because RGB colors are different than CMYK, the colors will look different on the final printed piece.  Converting RGB colors to CMYK can result in muted tones or color shifts.  Keep in mind that it can be difficult to replicate certain bright RGB colors with CMYK inks.

Pantone PMS Concerns
Converting images from Pantone PMS colors to CMYK can cause variations in color, so Primoprint advises starting with CMYK instead of converting from Pantone PMS. If a specific color is needed, use a Pantone PMS to CMYK swatch book to determine the best match.

Rich Black
Some printing projects include rich black, which is a mixture of 100% black (K) and Cyan (C), Magenta (M) and Yellow (Y). Rich Black creates a darker tone than black ink alone.

For best results, we recommend the following Rich Black values: C60 M40 Y40 K100

Color Best Practices
Please refrain from using registration (C100 M100 Y100 K100) in your artwork. This “color” is reserved for special marks like crop and bleeds.

Ink Density
Maximum ink density is 300. This means that there cannot be more than 300% coverage on any area of your project. Because a total of 100% coverage is possible for each ink, the maximum coverage in any area is 400% (adding all four inks together) 

Blue and Purple
Blue and purple are very close in the CMYK spectrum. When using a blue color in your design, always be sure to have at least a 30% difference in your Cyan and Magenta values. Adding too much Magenta to Cyan will result in the color purple even if it appears blue on your screen. 

Example: C100 M70 Y0 K0

Conversion to CMYK
If you are working with RGB images and converting them to CMYK, you may have difficulty reducing the Magenta levels in the image. If you have concerns about this matter, please do not hesitate to contact us before placing your order so that we can review your files and assist you.

Grayscale and CMYK
Grayscale images, when converted to CMYK, will have a color shift in the final print that may be yellow or green. Always remember to check the CMYK values of your grayscale in the final CMYK document. If you find values other than K in your grayscale image, there’s a chance that the color will vary. 

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