RGB, CMYK and PMS Colors Explained

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RGB CMYK and PMS Colors Explained

You’ve seen CMYK color along with RGB and Pantone Matching System (PMS), but what do they mean? While these were the domain of print shops and artists in the past, the internet, websites, and personal printers have made it accessible to virtually everyone.

Whether in print or on the Web, you want your marketing materials and branding to look sharp. And understanding the different color schemes will help you harness the psychology and power of colors. Choosing the right colors will help deliver your message, accentuate your project and have the desired effect on your audience.

CMYK Color

The CMYK color mode uses the colors cyan, magenta, yellow and black in different quantities to create all of the colors in an image that is being printed. The new colors are created in a subtractive process in which light is removed or absorbed.

With so many different mediums and technologies getting the same color across the board can be challenging. There are times in which they need to be converted to ensure image quality, such CMYK to Pantone or CMYK to PMS and CMYK to RGB.

Luckily, in today’s digital world it means you can use online tools to make the conversion much easier and get the same colors for your projects across all mediums.

Pantone (PMS) Color

As a standardized color matching structure, Pantone uses a numbering system to identify color quickly and accurately. The numbers allow different manufacturers to reference the number to create a Pantone color and match the colors match without direct contact with one another.





Pantone was initially designed for the graphics industry, but it is now used outside of the segment and has become a widely used palette in many different industries.

RGB Color

The RGB color mode combines the primary colors, red, green and blue in different combinations to create many colors. The RGB color mode offers the widest range of colors and it is the color profile used by digital devices and screens. The colors you see on websites, applications, videos and more on your screen are created using RGB.

Knowing how color palettes work is key to any graphic design project. Here is an awesome guide to help you decide when to best use RGB, CMYK and PMS (Pantone).

RGB CMYK and PMS Colors Explained





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5 Reactions

  1. Aira Bongco

    Wow. I really learned a lot from this. I have been seeing these color names for quite a while now but I don’t really understand them. Thanks to you, I now know how they are used and how they are different from each other.

  2. Which color style is the best for printing billboard ads?

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