Difference Between RGB and CMYK


RGB and CMYK are abbreviations that stand for two types of color systems. While RGB consists of red, green and blue colors, CNYK consists of cyan, magenta and yellow colors. The major difference between these two color systems is that while RGB is used to produce various colors of the spectrum on screens of TV and computer monitors, CMYK color system is used mainly in the print world. Not many people are aware of the two color systems and this article will highlight the differences of RGB and CMYK.

Red, green and blue are called additive colors and if we combine them, we get white light. This is the working principle behind TV’s and computer monitors. The RGB mode is optimized for display in these devices and also scanning devices.

On the other hand, cyan, magenta and yellow colors are called subtractive colors and if we print cyan, magenta and yellow inks on a white paper, what we get is black ink. This because these inks absorb light shining on the page, and since our eyes receive no reflected light from the paper, all we perceive is black. The world of printing makes use of the CMYK color mode. In reality, the black obtained by mixing these inks is not perfect and appears to be murky brown which is why black ink is needed to be mixed to obtain perfect black shade on paper. This is the K component in CMYK. Why K is used instead of B for black is because people might confuse it for blue and not black.

Thus if anyone is designing in digital world, he can use the RGB mode irrespective of software he is using (Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw etc). However, if one is doing work in the print media, it is better to convert the color code to CMYK even if you design it on a computer first. This enables to get a first hand look of how it will appear on paper. It is to be remembered that just as monitor settings need to be changed to get an optimum image, so does the quality of paper, its shininess, and degree of white decide the performance of the color code that you are using.


• RGB and CMYK are color codes used for color designing

• EGB includes additive colors red, green and blue while CMYK consists of cyan, magenta and yellow colors that are subtractive in nature.

• RGB mode is used in display on screens such as TV’s and computer monitors whereas CMYK is used in the print world.

• K in CMYK stands for black which is added to make the ink look blackest black.