CMYK (4 color process)

  • Use: Printing (offset and digital)
  • Ideal for: Full-color photographic images, brochures, books, magazines, flyers, posters, post cards, etc
  • Stands for: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (black)
  • What is it: Subtractive color synthesis (adding layers increases absorption)
  • Disadvantages: Can only print 70% of RGB colors, cannot produce vibrant, shiny colors seen on screen like bright red/blue/green
  • Difference to Pantone: Not solid color/collection of colored dots


  • Use: Printing (offset only)
  • Ideal for: Stationery, one or two color jobs, spot colors in premium brochures
  • Stands for: Pantone Matching System
  • What is it: Standardized color inks of Pantone company, universal numbering system of 700 colors for identifying and matching colors without contact
  • Advantages: Provides accurate color consistency, can be used for tiny type/lines, can be used for metallic/fluorescent colors, yields more vibrant/brighter colors, knowing product color allows for quality assurance¬†
  • How it is used: Designers use numbered Pantone color swatches that printers can then reference to allow same color to be printed no matter where it is


  • Use: Onscreen
  • Ideal for: Digital applications, games and illuminated signs, visualization purposes, displaying images on monitor of computers, TV screens and mobile device
  • Stands for: Red, Blue, Green
  • What is it: Additive color synthesis (adding lights creates white and removing all creates black)
  • Disadvantages: Images appear dull and less saturated when converted to CMYK (there will be color difference in finished product - it is advised to let print service provider do conversion because every device has specific color gamut it works with)

PC: Neglia Design

PC: Smart Levels Media

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