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Know your colors

Start to imagine a color, anything bright, or dark, vibrant or dull and then combine all the colors to make a design and then you would want to print it.

The print file you get out of Photoshop and the image as it appears on print might not be the same often, the difference has to do with color spaces, and there’s a difference between how colors appear on our screens and how they look in real life.

While nobody can control the variations inherent in billions of personal mobile devices and computer monitors, there are color types we use that are universal. They can also be broken down into two very important distinctions that if correctly applied, can go a long way in maintaining color consistency.

Here’s a handy graphic for a quick reference on color types.


PMS (Pantone® Matching System)

Use: Printing
For offset printing only. Ideal for stationery. Often used in one or two-color jobs. Also used as spot colors on premium brochures in addition to four-color process.

PMS colors (also called Pantone® colors) are patented, standardized color inks made by the Pantone company. Pantone has been around for over 50 years and is responsible for the creation of the first comprehensive standardized system of creating and matching colors in the graphic community. They literally wrote the book on it.


CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black)

Use: Printing
Use in offset and digital printing. Ideal for full-color brochures, flyers, posters and post cards, etc.


RGB (red, green, blue)

Use: Onscreen

The most commonly used color profile in the world of computers, TV screens and mobile devices is RGB. RGB is the process by which colors are rendered onscreen by using combinations of red, green and blue.


HEX (hexadecimal color)

Use: Onscreen for websites

Designers and developers use HEX colors in web design. A HEX color is expressed as a six-digit combination of numbers and letters defined by its mix of red, green and blue (RGB).


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