How is a CMYK image different than an RGB image?


When using Photoshop, what is the difference between a CMYK image and an RGB image? Why are there two different types of images?

Topic: Software
Answer this Question


4 total
Vote Up (12)

Differences between RGB and CMYK Color Modes

"RGB Color Mode

RGB is the color scheme that is associated with electronic displays, such as CRT, LCD monitors, digital cameras and scanners. It is an additive type of color mode, that combines the primary colors, red, green and blue, in various degrees to create a variety of different colors. When all three of the colors are combined and displayed to their full extent, the result is a pure white. When all three colors are combined to the lowest degree, or value, the result is black. Software such as photo editing programs use the RGB color mode because it offers the widest range of colors.

CMYK Color Mode

Printers print color onto paper using the CMYK color mode only. This is a four color mode that utilizes the colors cyan, magenta, yellow and black in various amounts to create all of the necessary colors when printing images. It is a subtractive process, which means that each additional unique color means more light is removed, or absorbed, to create colors. When the first three colors are added together, the result is not pure black, but rather a very dark brown. The K color, or black, is used to completely remove light from the printed picture, which is why the eye perceives the color as black."

Vote Up (11)

Just to add to what the earlier posters said, CMYK is specifically based on the the light absorbing quality of ink on paper.

Carla Manini
Vote Up (10)

RGB image is for eyes only i would say while CMYK is a type of image that would be used by the Printing studios which use ink to print. You need to work in CMYK mode to get an aproximate feeling of what the printed material may look (you are not seeing the real final product as you are watching the image on a computer screen, the real product can be seen only after printing).


Regarding colors:


In short: CMYK is subtractive color generally utilized in the printing industry, while RGB is additive color for the most part utilized as a part of showcase representation. 


The name of the CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (because in four-color printing, cyan, magenta, and yellow printing plates are carefully keyed, or aligned, with the key of the black key plate. ). 


The name of the RGB color stands for Red, Green, and Blue. The main use of the RGB color  is for sensing, representating and display of images in electronic devices such as televisions and computers, though it has also been used in conventional photography.

Vote Up (9)

Simply put:

One is for the screen (RGB)

The other is for print (CMYK)

You have to render the colors differently depending on your final metod of publishing. 


Ask a question

Join Now or Sign In to ask a question.
IBM continues to make the case for the nascent field of cognitive computing, showing off some Watson prototypes Thursday that could help speed scientific discovery in the medical field, by scanning large volumes of literature and data far more quickly then humans can, and suggesting possible leads.
Three CIOs discuss how they balance traditional and unconventional approaches to keep projects on track and deliver on their promises.
Windows XP users may now download a fourth service pack for the 13-year-old operating system, but it isn't coming from Microsoft.
Wishing your Raspberry Pi had more power for all those hardware hacking projects you have planned? There's a new barebones board on the market that may better fit your needs, and right now you can sign-up for your chance to get it for free.
Is it crazy to pay $1300 for a Chromebook? Some reflections after a year and a half of living with Google's luxurious Pixel.
Project management seems so straightforward. You set a deadline. You set a budget. You select the right people. The project gets done.
The arrival of the first round Android Wear-based smartwatches means developers have to take extra care to ensure their apps look good.
Microsoft has consolidated the consumer and enterprise editions of OneDrive under a single Android app, a move it plans to replicate across all the platforms that the cloud storage service runs on.
Google Drive apps are loved for their simplicity and ease of use, but don't let that fool you. There's a whole lot of power locked up in these web apps. And while we'd never put the suite on a par with Microsoft Office, there are some impressive features in Docs, Sheets, and Slides that you've likely overlooked.
Microsoft has begun clamping down on sham Windows Store apps that try to dupe users into paying for free software, the company announced Wednesday.
Join us: