CMYK vs. RGB vs. PMS

Have you ever shopped for a TV in the store and noticed that not all of the screens show the same image exactly the same? Some are too red, others too bright. Sometimes when you buy the one you like and take it home, it looks different than it did in the store! The same is true with computer monitors… colors may appear differently on your screen compared to ours.
Monitors display colors and images with RGB light (red, green, and blue). These additive colors will create white when shined evenly together and will display any color in between. Printers, however, use a subtractive set of colors that closely replicate those on your screen.
Hotcards prints using only the CMYK method for all standard orders. Any files that are uploaded in a non-CMYK color mode will be converted to CMYK. This conversion can sometimes result in color variation, especially amongst  neons or blue and purple colors. If you have a specific PMS spot color you would like to print, please contact our Customer Obsession Team for a custom quote! Not all colors are able to be replicated in the CMYK color spectrum.

What is the difference between CMYK, RGB, and PMS?

CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) is the standard print color mode used by most printers. This method will use 4 ink plates to lay down color and recreate your original files using subtractive coloring (the CMYK color created when subtracting an additive primary color from the RGB spectrum).

RGB (red, green, blue) is an additive color mode that is displayed on monitors and electronics. RGB is based on additive colors, which will produce white when all of the colors overlap each other. The RGB spectrum has a wider array of colors and can produce neon colors.

PMS, or Pantone Matching System, is a system of pre-determined color values that are used to produce consistent colors from printers across the nation. Rather than replicating your artwork with 4 layers of colors, the Pantone system will mix ink before the job reaches the press. This is common in 1 and 2 color jobs, such as letterhead or envelopes.

How does this relate to your printed piece?

Cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK) are the 4 subtractive colors that make up the ink palette of most printers, including Hotcards press’s. The artwork you upload to your order will be converted to CMYK color mode, if it is not already. Our pre-press department will then create a plate of your artwork, which has water repellant and ink receptive areas based on your files. As your order prints, the 4 color plates (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) will lay down “dots” of color that will ultimately create your original artwork file once the 4 plates are overlaid.  Any coating options, such as gloss or matte aqueous, will be laid down before the job dries. We then cut down the press sheets into their individual orders and package your Hotcards into the neat package you receive.




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