Direct Mail Marketing Tip: RGB and CMYK Difference

To analyse the printing trap between RGB and CMYK, we must first look at the RGB and CMYK difference.

What is the RGB CMYK Printing Trap?

RGB And CMYK Difference

There is a substantial difference between RGB and the CMYK colour print processes. Often, we come across arguments of CMYK vs RGB for digital printing.

For direct mail marketers and designers who aren’t aware of this, usually the first indication that something is wrong, and there is an RGB and CMYK difference, is when they receive the CMYK printing proof. They see that the images and colours are not as expected to be.

This often occurs with those who have learned their trade in a fully digital world, whereas those who have gained their knowledge in the pre-digital creative industries are more aware of the issue because they have lived through them already. With the resurgence of personalised direct mail marketing as one of the best ‘cut-through’ mediums, the learning of this process has become immensely valuable.

RGB printing refers to colours produced using the RGB (red, green and blue) light process. RGB printing is, typically, done on an inkjet printer. CMYK printing (cyan, magenta, yellow, black and (K)) is produced on a lithographic press.

What does the RGB and CMYK difference mean for designers and marketers?

Artwork designed using computer software will be displayed on the screen using RGB, which overlays various degrees of red, green and blue light to create any specific colours. If the artwork is then printed out locally on an office printer, the chances are the printer will print using RGB. In which case, what you have seen on screen is what you get.

Equally, if you export the artwork files and send them to a professional printer using a digital press – the press will also be using RGB. In simple terms, what you see is what you will receive with RGB printing.

If you export the artwork files and send it to a professional printer using a lithographic press and don’t convert the artwork into the CMYK printing format – you are likely to encounter printing issues. A lithographic press is common in the industry, due to producing larger volumes of direct mail marketing at a lower cost. However, you must convert it to CMYK, as, if not, the colours will be approximations of the RGB versions. This, in turn, will affect your direct mail marketing and details the issues faced with the CMYK vs RGB for digital printing argument.

The answer is to be aware of which printing process the designs are being printed out on. Ensure that all images and all artwork destined for Lithographic printing are converted to CMYK, before saving and collecting for output.
Should you need more help with converting artwork files or images from RGB to CMYK or vice-versa, get in touch with one of our team today regarding our print and mail services.


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