Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Havin' Some Fun with Colors!

In my last blog I said that the two areas where a promo project could go wrong were artwork and time.

I lied.

You can add color to the list. Putting your logo on something, in color, can be a frustrating process. The client (you), the distributor (me) and the supplier (the people who put your logo on your stuff) may all be speaking a different language when it comes to color.

So in this blog I'm going to cover the 2 major color systems. I'll show you how they differ and how to understand them when you're talking about decorating your promo item.

You might remember being taught in grade school art class that black and white are not colors. Black is the presence of all colors, white is the absence of all color. Occasionally this will come up in decorating a promotional product when someone will think that black or white doesn't count in determining the number of colors being used to print their logo. They do because they are inks that have to be mixed.

And that's just the beginning of fun with colors!

What comes next could easily be described as TMI  (too much information). But if you're involved with promotional products this stuff is going to come up sooner or later so you might as well have some information on your side.

There are 2 color systems: RGB and CMYK.

RGB, (red,green,blue), is the color system you see on your monitor, TV or digital camera. It's called an additive process because you can make all possible colors by adding different parts of red, green and blue.

This little illustration shows how RGB works.
See how you can add, (remember this is called an additive process) more or less of the primary colors to make pretty
much any color you want.

Here's another look at the RGB color scheme

The other color scheme is called CMYK, (cyan, magenta, yellow and black). The CMYK process is the one used in printing..for putting an image on a piece of paper.

CMYK, (also known as process color or four color printing), is a subtractive process. It works by partially or entirely masking colors on a lighter (usually white) background. The inks reduce the light that otherwise would be reflected back into your eyes. It subtracts from the white. It's the combination of the ink colors that determines what wave length (and consequently what color) is reflected back to you.

Because CMYK is subtractive and is being reflected off of a surface, CMYK colors are often a bit duller looking than RGB colors. 

Here's an illustration that gives you an idea of how this works in printing.

Here's a quick YouTube video that explains the two color models.

Whew! That was alot!