Colour Printing: CMYK v RGB

When I get asked to do undertake colour printing I have to ask the question "What is the colour profile: CMYK or RGB?" and often get met with a confused response.

There is a very valid reason for asking this - most laser printers contain 4 inks namely Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (Black) and these are combined to give the range of colours available to a laser printer.

RGB (Red, Green & Blue) is the colour spectrum used in screens and TVs which can also include light to provide a broader spectrum of colours and far more vivid colours than CMYK.

If you try and print a document created with an RGB profile you'll often get darker or muted colours - vivid reds, greens and blues are very hard to reproduce. Converting a document from RGB to CMYK will show you the difference, especially if you use Adobe Illustrator or Affinity Designer such as I do you can quickly switch the colour profile.

There are ways of adjusting the colours in a laser printer but these are time-consuming and take a lot of trial and error which is why many professional printers won't accept RGB documents or will only accept them with caveats.

Higher-end inkjet printers can now produce close to RGB - this is often achieved by using more inks than the traditional CMYK but this then becomes a costlier option for colour printing as the inks are notoriously expensive.

If you're looking to design that snazzy new logo and want it replicated on your business stationery then try it out in CMYK or ask your printer (hopefully us) for advice.