Color Primer


Here are some of the more common color schemes that relate to graphic design.



CMYK color is related to print work and describes how the colors Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black are combined. It is a subtractive process unlike how we view color on a computer monitor. So when a designer works on your project and works with a 4 color process they are working with colors that can be represented by % of their individual CMYK components.



The RGB color space is capable of producing many more colors than the process (CMYK) color space.


The most important thing to get out of this is that colors that are in the CMYK spectrum may not be accurately displayed on a monitor, meaning you may see a difference in the colors between your monitor and what is printed. Before you get a job printed you should always view a realist proof from your printer.


Pantone PMS Colors

Pantone or Spot colors are solid colors that you can specify - mostly used on logos or added to 4 color jobs to bring out a vibrant or color that cannot be produced with a CMYK process. Most logos are designed using 2 colors, the problem is that if you go to print the logo in a 4 color process the color will shift and may not match. If you are printing you brochures or catalogs in 4 colors and you want your logo to match your 2 color business cards you might be in for a surprise. The good news is that there are swatch books that show exactly how PMS colors shift when they are printer in a 4 color process. You can choose colors to minimize this shift or run a 5 color job - CMYK plus your spot color. Your designer can help you with this.

Chicago Graphic Design