What is your Colour


What is your Colour

Documents that use colour have been shown time and time again to be more effective communication tools than their monochrome counterparts. Colour attracts attention and makes the most important messages stand out. Readers tend to understand colour documents more quickly, retain more of the information and remember it more easily. So using colour in documents is proven to be important – but did you know that there are three main colour models used for design depending on the application: CMYK, PMS and RGB?


CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. It is referred to as four-colour process and is commonly used for printed materials that include images, photos or documents with many colours. These four colours are printed in tiny dots, which when layered onto each other can produce a wide range of colours.


PMS — Pantone Matching System — is the most widely used system for specifying and blending match colours. This system identifies more than 700 colours, provides designers with swatches for specific colours and gives printers a formula for making the ink colours. They are also known as spot colours and are used when a specific colour is required, for example, the KKP logo uses two PMS colours, PMS 485 for the red and PMS 280 for the blue. Metallic and fluorescent colours cannot be achieved by using four-colour process printing. A spot colour is necessary for printing these colours.


RGB stands for red, green and blue.These are the colours used on a TV or computer monitor to create colour images on the screen. However, when it comes to printing, they must be converted to CMYK. RGB colours are only used when designing for web or multimedia.

What to use when

CMYK colours can be used in both Digital and Offset printing. PMS colours can be used in Digital printing but the output colour is actually converted to CMYK so the end colour will not be as accurate digitally as it would be if PMS colours were selected for Offset printing. RGB colours can be used in both Digital and Offset printing but will be converted to CMYK in both processes. As RGB colours are used to display colour on a monitor, the final output will vary considerably when produced on Digital or Offset printers.

Warm, cool and neutral

Colours are often grouped into warm, cool and neutral, depending on the emotional responses they invoke. For example, ‘cool’ colours like blue and green evoke a feeling of trust, relaxation and freshness. Red is the hottest of ‘warm’ colours, followed by orange and bright yellow. Warm colours evoke energy, movement and change. Neutral colours, such as greys, mushrooms and beiges, provide a quiet space or act as a balancing colour.

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