This post was written by Kristin Thornton, our shop’s graphic designer. In this post, Kristin explains what CMYK is, and why it matters to both us and our customers. – L.S.
In elementary school we all learned the basics of mixing primary colors by finger painting using the base primary colors: red, blue, and yellow.
When you mix red and yellow, you get orange. When you mix yellow and blue, you get green.
If you’re like my six-year-old daughter, you mix them all together to make it a big brown-black mess.
In the print world, we start out with cyan, magenta, yellow and black. The four-color process uses the color space known as CMYK. (I guess they didn’t want to use “B” for “black” because people may mistake it for “blue.”)
The four colors are combined, one layer at a time in multiple runs, to create the desired colors. Just like painting, if we mix the ink in a specific order we get varied outcomes of color.
Above is a colored image separated into cyan (C), magenta (M), yellow (Y), and black (K). When combined, they make the finished flower on the right.
When dealing with photos and sending them to us for printing, it is best to have them converted to CMYK. If you need assistance transferring your photos to CMYK, we can do so if you send them to us with the details of your project needs.
One customer was pleased when they brought in a personal photo to add to their business card. I was able to transfer it to CMYK and adjust the image so that their face would look good on their business cards.
(Please note that most pictures taken with cameras and cell phones will use the format of Red, Green, Blue, or RGB.)
In a future post, I will explain a bit more about why RGB and CMYK look different.
Marketing Director at the Renton Printery. Providing advice on print-buying and business, along with notes on the state of the shop.