Celebrations + CMYK

Celebrations + CMYK

neon didnt die in the 90s

Colour (friends from the south, that's Canadian for COLOR) is understandably a huge part of our lives. 

Have you ever excitedly picked a really radical neon pink shade for your cool powerpoint presentation, only to toodle over to the office printer and see a muddy shade of rose when it's printed? 

Lets jump back to art school in grade school to find out why: there are two primary colour systems in design; RGB (red + green + blue) and CMYK (cyan + magenta + yellow + black). 

I could talk at length about how one system is based by adding colour to a black background and the other is created by subtracting colour from a white background... but that will bore you to death. (Unless you are legit interested, then let's chat. Literally ... the most riveting dinner party conversation). 

The only thing you need to know is anything you see in digital format (websites, videos, etc) is built in the RGB colour system. Anything you see in print is built in the CMYK colour system. There ARE ways to create neon-like colours printed, but that's a whole other dinner party completely. 

Programs on your computer will allow you to create super vibrant colours on your screen, only to cause disappointment when you fall in love with your fluorescent powerpoint presentation and it prints in a completely different shade. Not fair right?

This great injustice is because your typical office printer has only four colours to choose from (C+M+Y+K) and it needs to add different quantities of each of the four colours to create the best-fit and it can't create the vibrancy that RGB can. It's trying its best, guys.

Luckily, designers can help create colour systems for you or your brand that translate between both web and print, so your brand will be seamless online and offline. 

Designers will give you a colour code that will look a little bit like this: C45 // M100 // Y49 // K47.

When you're colour-matching in a program, don't eyeball it. There are millions and millions of different shades of the same colour. Hit the 'advanced options' in your colour menu, and input the code just like you see it: 45% cyan, 100% magenta, 49% yellow and 47% black. Even a 1% difference in any of the categories will create a different colour, and before you know it, your brand is a cobbled together colour mess. That makes for one very sad designer. 

While it might mean highlighter-yellow is a no-go as a primary brand colour, it also means that there will be no disappointments, we promise. 

Yours in vibrancy, 
Cait

Trout Taylor