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Colour Formatting - What are CMYK, RGB and HEX? 10/17

Colour is one of the most important components in our lives. Imagine how the world would look if devoid of all its colours. Colours have the power to impact our emotions and feelings in such a way which cannot be said for most mediums. While some colours have the ability to brighten your mood, there are others that can make you feel hungry, depressed, anxious and even angry.

Colours Explained

The three primary colours are Red, Blue and Yellow, followed by secondary colors that are Orange, Purple and Green. And then there are tertiary colours that are basically the combination of the primary and secondary colours.

Complimentary colours are those that lie on two opposite sides on the colour wheel and have the ability to stir up feelings of thrill. On the other hand, colours that are close or next to each other on the wheel are analogous colours and radiate a specific feeling, such as depression and cold or warm and cozy.

Colour Formats

When working with colours, many different and technical aspects come up. These differ largely when considered for web and print production. If you try matching a screen colour with a print, you might get a close match; however, it is not possible to get an exact one. This is because colour formatting for screen and print is different and moreover, the monitors and various types of printing paper differ as well.

The four colour systems used for various mediums are:

  • CMYK This stands for Cyan Magenta Yellow Key and is used in printing documents of four colours. It is the standard colour model in the printing industry and is often called four-coloured printing, as it makes use of the four basic colours. Almost every colour can be created virtually from these four colors.
  • RGB RGB stands for Red, Green and Blue and is used for display devices. Our monitors emit various colours in the form of RGB light, which can be mixed and contracted in different combinations to procure every possible colour for such devices. The levels of each of these three colours can range from 0 to 100 in full intensity.
  • HEX A system used for designing web pages, HEX is a three-byte hexadecimal or six digit illustration of RGB colour. Each byte in this colour code represents the red, green and blue elements of a colour in the form of a number that ranges from 0 to 255 (decimal system) or 0 to FF (hexadecimal notation).

Using Different Colour Codes

When working with colours for the print medium, we work on the CMYK code. Here, the pantone colours are used that defines the levels of cyan, magenta, yellow and black colours, which are required for the printing process.

On the other hand, when working on the web, we work on the RGB code that is defined by the HEX codes. The HEX codes determine the saturation, hue and value of red, green and blue colours.

While picking a colour, it is essential to be sensitive towards the feeling that each colour evokes. A printer or a designer with a good understanding of the nuances of each colour in design, print and web is the best person to help you make an apt choice.


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