HD Pixel Print has provided you with this guide detailing the differences between RGB and CMYK colour gamuts. It also explains why CMYK should be used for commercially printed documents and also helps to show you how to check colour settings in various popular software packages.

Please note: when ordering, we do not automatically check, set up and convert all colours to CMYK because sometimes this can cause noticeable colour variation.

Colour Gamut Differences

With RGB the colours are made up of Red, Green and Blue.

With CMYK the colours are made up of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black.


CMYK colours

CMYK colours are subtractive this means that the starting canvas is white and colours are then added to block out parts of the spectrum.

RGB colours

RGB colours are additive this means that the starting canvas is black (like a computer screen) and the colours are then added to produce the final image.
Why Print files need to be CMYK

The CMYK spectrum is much smaller than the RGB colour spectrum as there are more colours that can be created using RGB than CMYK. Having flourescent orange, green or bright colours can make the problem more apparent.

Please note: When preparing your files for the best results commecial presses print onto white paper using CMYK colours.

Creating Files In CMYK

Using CMYK set up and colour is important when designing any file that you wish to have printed. This will help to save you experiencing any problems in trying to adjust the colours afterwards as this is a difficult process and sometimes impossible.

CMYK colour mode is not always able to create files on some software. For example Microsoft Word and Powerpoint only use RGB so they would need to be converted before going to print. If needed you can send us your Powerpoint or Word files so we can convert them into a CMYK pdf afterwards we would then send you a proof to check over. Commonly used software is: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator and Microsoft Publisher.

If in any doubt just get in touch with our support team

DO’s and DONT’s – Checking Your Files before sending

At HD Pixel Print we can’t stress enough how imporatant it is for you to assist in checking your files yourself to help save time and prevent issues in the long run. Please DO the following:

  • Using a colour calibrated monitor Do check proofs on screen (if possible). On uncalibrated screens colours will vary from monitor to monitor so please bare this in mind.
  • Using a commercial proof printer making sure the target profile is set to Forga 39 DO print samples.
  • Use the Adobe Acrobat Pro Output Preview tool and DO check how the file will look when output to Fogra 39.
  • Use printed CMYK colour swatches. DO check colours if unsure.
  • Please DO ask for a printed sample especially if you are unsure of your document’s colour setup. Samples can sometimes be provided for an additional fee. Please contact HD Pixel Print for details.
  • Finally please DON’T use desktop printer samples to check the colours against as their profiles mostly try to emulate RGB colours rather than printing to the true CMYK colours.