Spot Colors

Previously, I brought up CMYK and RGB coloring and their differences. CMYK uses subtractive color mixing to add color to printed graphics and images. RGB, on the other hand, uses additive color mixing to overlap colors on digital screens. But this topics dwells on printing in color and there’s one more method that we’re missing: spot colors. Although it’s not as commonly used compared to CMYK, it’s amazing technique should be acknowledged.

What are Spot Colors?

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As stated before, CMYK is a color combining method which overlaps each layer of the four base colors (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black) over each other to create the desired colors. With this, an image deceives the eye with four colors. However, spot colors are different because the desired colors are pre-mixed into a solid color. For instance, to get purple, instead of overlapping hues of cyan and magenta, you can use a specific recipe that mixes cyan and magenta to achieve the color wanted. This gives spot colors an advancement in color quality. But just like CMYK printing, it comes with conditions and limitations.

What You Can and Can’t Do

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It’s true that spot colors has conditions, one being money-the main issue that can get very expensive quickly- which is why spot color is used for certain graphics. Unlike for CMYK, where you can print out fully color images, spot colors are mainly used for printing logos. It’s best to print graphics that use four colors or less for smooth, simple coloring. And since spot color matches the perfect hue of your decision, it’s also better for more vibrant or metallic colors. This makes spot color perfect for basic logos consisting of one or two colors. Spot colors are also perfect for small font and fine lines that can’t be easily copied with the halftone dots of CMYK.

Does such high color quality and expensive terms make spot color better than CMYK printing? The answer of course is no. (which I’m sure you knew…right?) Both CMYK and spot color have their strengths and weaknesses but they both amazing ways to put your digital art to print. So if you ever think about using spot color, give it a try! For more information on spot color and its differences from CMYK, check out this amazing website I used. Enjoy!

CMYK & RGB: What’s the Difference?

Here we are again with another round of ‘What’s the Difference?’ in the world of digital design! In this blog we’ll cover the two types of color modes and their comparisons. To many digital designers, these terms are well-known but not as much spoken about. For all we know at the moment, CMYK and RGB deal with colors and how these colors are seen in certain situations. But what about them? Why are they so important in designing graphics? And what are they specialized for? With these questions set in stone, we’ll begin with the research on these two important color modes.


Photo by Dario Seretin on Unsplash

For starters, the color mode CMYK is an a abbreviation for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and BlacK. These are the colors used to print graphics and images. The ink is used via subtractive mixing to turn a blank white page into a page with various particular colors. As stated before, the CMYK color mode is used for graphics and images that will be physically printed, so this color mode is best used with business cards, flyers, t-shirts, restaurant menus, etc. When preparing a digital graphic for printing, most file formats are compatible for CMYK, but some files are most suited for printing than others. The most compatible file formats for CMYK are PDFs, AI (Adobe Illustrator, if you have access to it), and EPS (a good file format for vector programs besides Illustrator).


Photo by Florian Olivo on Unsplash

Next up is RGB, an abbreviation for the colors Red, Green, and Blue. These three colors are used via additive mixing to turn a black screen into a screen full of colors varying in intensity. Such freedom with the colors can allow the designer to adjust how shaded, vibrant, and saturated the colors are projected. When I say ‘screen’ I’m referring to digital screens such as: computers, smartphones, televisions, etc. The RGB color modes allows graphics to be seen on such screens like icons, online ads, images, videos, and more. Just like CMYK, RGB has file formats that they can work best with. These formats are JPEGs, GIFs, PNGs, and PSD (for Adobe Photoshop).

With this new found information, I believe he have a lot to thank these color modes for (or at least the engineers who created them). These modes are not only responsible for the many physical things we see around, but for the seemingly endless digital graphics we encounter each day. Hopefully this post clears up the confusion for these commonly used terms, and helps you determine when and how to use CMYK and RGB. If you were unsatisfied with the brief explanation, feel free to use the website I used as research for the color modes. Enjoy!