Recently, we have a had a few questions from customers regarding color space, namely RBG and CMYK, so we thought this might be a good time and place to address them. ( Please note that this will be a very “tip of the iceberg” post in regard to this subject, so if you don’t want to read a lot of technical jargon right now, no worries, you are safe:))
RGB stands for red, green, and blue, where CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. The files that come from your camera are in some type of RGB color space (sRGB, AdobeRGB, etc.). If you are sending image files to a lab to print or even if you are printing them yourself at home, your files should stay in an RGB color space. That means that you don’t have to do anything to the color space. At this point, you may be thinking “Well, good, I haven’t been doing anything to the color space on my files and I didn’t even know that I could. Glad to know that I have been doing it right all along.”
So, when do you use CMYK? Well, for our purposes (dealing with most things photographic), the most common reason for someone to need CMYK files would be if they were going to have something press printed on an off-set printing press. This would be a large run of business cards, wedding invitations, brochures, postcards, etc. Where this can become confusing is when you order a press printed item in small quantities that is run on a digital press instead of an off-set press. Those items are best printed with an RGB colorspace because of the process and equipment used to do the printing. For example, if you order press printed Christmas cards from us, you do not need to convert to CMYK.
Still confused? The safe thing to do if you are not sure is to leave your files in RBG and contact the printer you are working with to ask if they require RGB or CMYK for your particular job. Most printers that require CMYK will list that information in their file preparation instructions, but you can always contact customer service to get confirmation from a human.
Oh, and one more very important thing to know…even though we print in an RGB colorspace, if you send us something that is CMYK instead, we can still print it, but it will look dramatically different than if printed in its proper color space.
If you would like a little more information or some illustrations to go along with this topic, click here for a reference.