CMYK buckets

With computers and lighting design, when you mix red, green and blue (RGB) together, you get white. But in printing or painting, when you mix cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK) together, you get black. That is because RGB color is based on light while CMYK color is based on pigment. Color based on light is called additive color; when it’s based on pigment, it’s called subtractive. This information didn’t cost you any extra. 🙂


A computer monitor displays RGB color: red, green and blue. A printing press, on the other hand, uses CMYK: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. To avoid a color shift in printing, design your project with CMYK in mind. We have swatch books that you can look at to see how your color will print. We also have a Pantone Color Chart on line that you can look at; but keep in mind that you will be looking at CMYK colors on an RGB monitor! [To enlarge chart: After clicking on the link to open the chart, right click on the chart with your mouse and select “Open Image in New Window.”]