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There has already been an article about colors on our blog. Do you remember it? If not, be sure to read on! LINK
This topic, like the topic of other design elements, is extremely fascinating andextensive!

That is why today we are discussingcolors again. And not just any colors, but those that make up the CMYK and RGB palettes. What are they? How do they differ? We will explain that in no time!

CMYK Palette

This abbreviation refers to the four basic colors of inks that are commonly used in printing. They are used to create posters, book covers and illustrations, flyers, etc.

The CMYK palette includes:

cyan – that is ashade of blue. It is greyish-blue or greenish-blue, very similar to azure, yet different;

magenta – a combination of red and blue. It is like intense fuchsia, crimson (that is red with a touch of blue) and amaranth (a color between red and purple);

yellow – or a color quite similar to yellow. However, compared to what we understand as yellow, it appears less intense. It can be described as slightly paler than the traditional saturated yellow. It is obtained by combining red and green;

kay – it’s like black. However, it is not deep dark blackness. It is best described by the oxymoron “light black”.

The abbreviation CMYK was created from the letters taken from the above-mentioned English color names: C for cyan, M for magenta, Y for yellow, and K for key (or blacK).

The colors that make up the CMYK palette can be combined with each other. This results in further colors. The colors are combined with each other in proportions ranging from 0% to 100%. This technique makes it possible to create shades of varying saturation. Interestingly, the colors are not combined by mixing them together, as we did, for example, with paints in kindergarten. CMYK colors are combined by overlapping each other. It looks a bit like taking a sheet of, for example, blue film, which lets light through, and putting a sheet of yellow film on top of it. Both colors will blend into green!

There is one more interesting fact before we move on to RGB colors! In theory, the shades that make up the CMYK palette can be defined, and quite precisely. However, in reality, they can differ from each other.The first reason isthe fact that each of us perceives colors slightly differently. Secondly, because they can be different in the printing itself. This depends on the ink manufacturers and the regions of the world!

RGB Palette

In this case we are dealing with a 3-color space model. It consists of:




This model is based on how the human eye perceives colors. It is therefore a very natural palette. So, how do we perceive the colors? We see the impression of any color, which is created by combining – in specific proportions – three beams of light: red, green and blue.
This palette is used in digital technology. It is used in image analyzing devices such as scanners and digital cameras. The RGB model is also used in devices which display images – TV sets and computer monitors! Depending on the settings and parameters of the device, the RGB tones may vary.
Perhaps in your first computer science lessons your teacher showed you how to change the RGB tones. Do you remember the program Microsoft Paint? It had a color editing function. In the left column, there were the parameters of the hue, saturation, and brightness. In the right column, there was RGB, or the amount of red, green and blue in the final color!


After this brief introduction of the two palettes, let’s do a little summary. How do these two models differ from each other? The most important difference is that if you “mix” the CMYK colors, you will obtain light black. We see these colors depending on the type of light reflected, because paper does not shine on its own. The CMYK palette is used for printing. We can see it when we look at leaflets, books, posters, concert agendas. On the other hand, the RGB colors, when combined, result in whiteness. This is what we experience every time we switch on the TV, computer or smartphone! We see the RGB colors thanks to the fact that the electronic device emits light.


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