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  • Nicole Manks

The secret languages of graphic design: colour

Coloured powder exploding infront of a person

Hey there! Ever wonder why your graphic designer seems to have a secret colour language? Throwing out terms like CMYK, RGB, and Pantone (or PMS)? Well, fear not – let's unravel the mystery and bring some color to your life!


CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black):

  • CMYK is all about that print life! It's like the Fab Four of inks: Cyan (think light blue), Magenta (a hint of pinkish red), Yellow, and Black (the Key player).

  • This gang of four dominates the graphic arts and commercial printing scenes. From offset to digital printing, they're everywhere.

  • Thanks to CMYK digital print, full-color awesomeness is now way more affordable. Even small businesses are rocking the CMYK process on their desktop printers.

  • And did you know? CMYK can replicate almost the entire color spectrum using just these four inks. Talk about efficiency!


RGB (Red, Green, Blue):

  • RGB is like the rock band of colors, found on your computer screen, digital camera, and TV monitors. Red, Green, and Blue take the stage, creating a dazzling spectacle.

  • But here's the kicker: when it comes to printing, these colors need to do a quick costume change into CMYK. It's like backstage magic for colors!


Pantone swatches with small macrons that match the clour of each swatch

Pantone (PMS):

  • Enter the color maestro – Pantone! It's the secret sauce for accuracy. Pantone colors are mixed to precise specs and printed in official guides, so you know exactly what you're getting.

  • It's like picking paint colors for your home – no surprises. If you're a stickler for color accuracy, Pantone is your ride-or-die choice.


Print and Screen Color Vibes:

  • CMYK plays it cool, subtracting light on paper. RGB, on the other hand, adds light on your monitor. It's a color showdown!

  • Monitors are like snowflakes – no two show colors the same way. So, designers often turn to Pantone as the North Star for consistency.


Color Assurance for Print and Web:

  • Graphic designers are color wizards. Knowing your Pantone colors from the get-go is like having a magic wand for your brand's consistency.

  • Converting colors backward? Not as fun. It's like trying to unmix a smoothie – not pretty.


Coated or Uncoated – Paper Matters:

  • Coated paper is the smooth operator, taking ink like a champ. Uncoated paper is more absorbent, like a thirsty sponge.

  • Wall analogy time: coated paper is like primed walls, and uncoated is, well, no primer. Dark colors? They show off more on uncoated paper.


Digital printing press at work

Proof's in the Pudding – or the Proof Copy:

  • Don't leave color to chance! Ask your printer for a hard copy proof to ensure your colors pop just the way you want them.

  • Email proofs? Not the same. Screens lie. Make sure your printer knows your color preferences for accurate electronic proofs.


So, there you have it – CMYK, RGB, and Pantone, the trio of color wonders!


If you're still feeling a bit color-confused, don't hesitate to reach out to Life Styled or a printer like the wonderful team at Snap Geelong. They're like color superheroes ready to save the day for your brand! 🌈✨


Needing some colour inspiration?

Download our Colour Inspiration Guide to get you started!



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