Color Study: Creating Accurate Colors
Colors ColorsRGB. CMYK. PMS. These color-related abbreviations may sound foreign to some, but they are a must-know for any designer. Why? Color obviously plays a crucial role in design. Beyond that, understanding color means better knowing how the color will reproduce on the deliverables.
When creating products for multiple mediums, it is important to have a solid grasp on how the colors will behave. For example, a business may have a website with a main color of R245, G148, B136. When it comes time to print that same color on a business card, CMYK qualities and the possibility of utilizing PMS need to be considered. RGB is brighter due to being backlit; paper naturally absorbs ink, thus diffusing the color; and the type and finish of paper – such as uncoated or glossy – can affect the final product.
This understanding can make the difference between a great result and an undesirable do-over.
RGB and HEX Colors
RGB (Red, Green, Blue) colors are mostly used in all-digital formats, such as video and web. These colors are created by the combinations of the three wavelengths of the light spectrum. Red, green, and blue can be produced at 26 depths each. This makes a vast number of possible depth-of-color combinations. Additionally, these are being produced by a light source, which makes viewing more vibrant and bright.
Web also commonly uses HEX, or Hexadecimal colors, a more simplified version of the RGB value used in coding HTML and CSS for websites.
CMYK, or Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and blacK, are the four ink colors used in offset printing. These colors blend as tiny, overlapping dots that produce a very wide range of colors efficiently. CMYK is great for everyday needs, but it cannot always replicate screen to print. Thus, for certain printed marketing materials, a more precise color may be needed.
This is where PMS (Pantone Matching System), or spot color, comes into play. PMS is additional pre-mixed ink added to the offset press that is one specific color, so it is spot-on accurate to the colors that were chosen when the brand or materials were first designed.