Design Industry Buzzwords 102: Color

All industries have buzzwords - terms and phrases specific to that industry that are gibberish to those outside the industry. These terms facilitate production workflows within industries but can make clear communication with clients difficult, particularly highly tecnical terms.

TFG believes that educating our clients about these “mysterious” design industry terms leads to better relationships, production workflows, and end products.

RGB  A color model used by display screens (computer monitors, television screens, lighted billboards) that mixes red, green, and blue light sources to achieve a broad gamut of colors in the visible spectrum.

RGB color mixing provides a broader and brighter array of colors than is available in the CMYK gamut, presenting challenges when designing materials across a broad array of media types.

Additive Color Model: Combining red, blue, and green light at 100% saturation produces white.

CMYK  Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black are the four primary colors used in color printing. The four colors are layered on paper by using 4 inked plates, one for each color. Various combinations of the 4 colors creates the full color range available in the CMYK gamut.

One of the challenging aspects of designing business marketing materials is color matching—properly converting RGB colors into CMYK colors (and vice versa) so that what gets printed looks the same as what appears on display screens. This is especially true when converting very bright RGB colors which fall outside the CMYK gamut.

Subtractive Color Model: Combining cyan, magenta, yellow should theoretically produce black. However, black ink is usually added since in practice, the combination results in a very dark brown, not true black.

PMS   The Pantone Matching System is based on a specific mix of pigments to create new colors—referred to as “spot colors.” The Pantone system expands the range of available colors for printing processes including bright colors, metallics, florescents, and hexachrome not available in the CMYK gamut.

Pantone inks are pre-mixed and applied to paper in a single layer, requiring only one plate per defined PMS color.

A 2 or 3-color PMS print job can be cheaper to run since only 2 or 3 plates are made.

Stay tuned for more articles posted on a quarterly basis.

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