Colors: What is the Difference Between RGB and CMYK?

What is RGB?

Most photographs you will work with will be JPG (*.jpg/*.jpeg) files saved as RGB – which stands for ‘Red, Green, and Blue’. RGB refers to the light waves that are used by screens to project images, and by digital cameras to capture images.

What is CMYK?

Commercial color printing, typically involves using Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black inks, often referred to as CMYK or 4C (color) process.

Why Do I Need to Know This?

Commercial printers will usually convert RGB images to CMYK before printing them. The process of converting an RGB image into a printed image varies by each printer’s set-up, and can sometimes break the watermark. Therefore, we suggest talking to your printer and confirming the ‘color profile’ they will use for conversion before sending them your image. Here are some questions to ask your printer.

Can I Create My Own CMYK Files?

To create your own CMYK file, you will need to save your image as a TIFF (*.tiff) file. TIFF files are much larger than JPG files, so make sure your image isn’t larger than 150MB or you won’t be able to watermark it.

When you save your TIFF file and choose the CMYK option, you’ll be asked to select a ‘color profile’. Color profiles are standard color palettes used for saving color images. Image watermarks work best with the following CMYK color profiles:

  • SWOP US Web
  • GRACoL press

What About Greyscale?

Watermarks are often visible on a greyscale image, so we do not recommend saving images as greyscale.