There are three main types of color used for production in the digital and analog world. These include RGB colors, CMYK colors and Pantone (PMS) colors. It is helpful to understand the properties of each to achieve the most accurate colors for a project.
RGB Colors are Red, Blue and Green. Green replaces yellow in the primary colors found on the color wheel. The RGB model is additive where the colors are based on properties of light. RGB is used for electronic systems such as television screens, computer monitors, cell-phones and tablets.
Red, green and blue light from the RGB model are mixed to produce all other colors. Mixing RGB colors does not produce the same colors in print and painting. It can only be done through a light source. When all colors are mixed, the final result is white.
CMYK colors are used for printing and include cyan, magenta, yellow and black (k represents black). CMYK colors are based on pigment and are subtractive. CMYK The disadvantage of this color model, in comparison to the RGB model, is that fewer colors can be produced. It is also difficult to achieve bright and vibrant colors such as neon green.
Theoretically, mixing all CMYK colors produces black because it is a subtractive method. In reality, however, the end result is a muddy neutral. CMYK is often used to refer to the printing process. To achieve the right CMYK color, a white background must be used.
The Pantone Matching System (PMS) is another color production system introduced by the Pantone Inc. company. Pantone colors are used mainly in printing, fabric, production of plastic and colored paint. The colors in this system are standardized. This helps different manufacturers achieve the same exact colors in any location.
Pantone colors are associated with the CMYK printing process, but there is only a selection of specific colors available for production. The Pantone system has a guide with all the colors available and the individual colors are given a number for reference.