What Color Do You Need?

If you are designing a file or getting ready to send your artwork to be printed, you should understand the basic definitions of the colors being used and what the differences are. There are 4 basic color types: CMYK, RGB, PMS and HEX.

CMYK is also know as Full Color, Four Color, Four Color Process and Process Color. CMYK refers to the four inks used in printing full color… Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black.  

Each process color is comprised of percentages of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black inks that are printed in transparent dots of ink that blend together to make a color. CMYK printing will produce high quality results, but there is a chance of color variation across different printers and in different print runs. CMYK are the colors used when you send a file to your desktop printer or when you send a file to a printing company to be printed. CMYK cannot be used on a screen or online.

The best file formats for CMYK colors are: PDF, AI, EPS, orTIF; but a JPEG file can also be CMYK.


The RGB color model is an “additive color model” in which red, green, and blue light are added together in various ways to reproduce a broad array of colors.

RGB colors work great on websites and on-screen, but it is not a good choice for printing. RGB colors should be used for website logos or graphic images, social media, video, photographs online, apps, etc. You will notice that RGB colors appear more vibrant than CMYK colors because they are illuminated on a screen and the screen provides a larger range of color.

The best file formats for RGB colors are: JPEG, PNG and GIF.


A spot color is a special premixed ink that is used instead of, or in addition to, process inks (CMYK).

Spot colors are solid colors of ink. A spot color requires its own printing plate on a printing press which adds to the cost of the printing job. You would use spot color when color accuracy is critical. There are several spot color systems to choose from, but the most widely used is the Pantone Matching System (PMS).


Pantone Matching System (PMS) is a printing industry color matching system used to print spot colors – also called Pantone colors.

Pantone uses 18 base colors to create a range of Pantone colors. The swatches are indicated by a three- or four-digit number followed by the letter C or U. (example PMS 320C) The C stands for Coated and the U for Uncoated and refers to the finish of the paper it is being printed on. Coated are used for printing on glossy surfaces and Uncoated for printing on matte surfaces like letterhead. When you print on a coated surface it adds a sheen to the ink and the uncoated inks are not as vibrant. If you look at the same PMS number in coated and uncoated, there is a noticeable difference.


Hex Colors are Hexadecimal numbers are used on web pages to set colors.

Hex colors are a mix of red, green and blue (RGB) with some conversions. The color is shown by the number sign (#) followed by six letters, numbers or a combination (ex. #66ccc). Hex colors are only used on web pages and should not be used in designing for print.

Most likely, you will never need to use hex color codes, but, you can find free conversion tools online if you need to convert RGB files to HEX by searching, “RGB to HEX” .

Types of Artwork Files

Let’s talk about the basic file types and their common uses. You should have your logo files in ALL of these file types so you have the right file for any situation. You should also have your logo in color, in solid black and white and also in a grayscale file. It is always best to supply the exact type of file needed for a specific job.

.eps
This is usually a vector file and is the preferred file type in the marketing field. Vector files are scalable. They will always remain crisp and clean whether 1/4” or 14 feet. Chances are you will not be able to open a .eps file, but your printer or graphic designer will. The EPS file is needed for any promotional item imprint, screen printing or for signs because of its ability to be scaled without loosing quality.

.jpg
The most universally used file type, a .jpg can be used across most platforms and applications. It cannot be scaled without loosing resolution. This file type is best used on-line and in Powerpoint presentations. It can be printed in high resolution as long as you use it at 100% or smaller and does not need to be enlarged. A jpg file will alway have a white background. It should not be used on a background with color or over an image because it will have a white box around it (unless you have a colored background as part of your JPG image).

.tif
The TIF is an image format file for high-quality graphics. TIF files (Tagged Image Format File) are very versatile when used in printing, however they can not be used on web pages.

.png
Best used online. A .png file can have a transparent background so it will not have a white box background like a jpg. It can also be used in print depending on how you are printing. If you are printing to a desktop printer or digital file, it will be fine. It is not ideal if you are sending it to an offset press for 4-color Process printing because a PNG is always an RGB file and is not CMYK.

.pdf
Portable Document Format – this file type is used across all platforms and captures all of the elements of a document in an electronic image that can be viewed or printed on most computers. It is usually the preferred file type because it embeds fonts and images without attaching the font and image files. If you create artwork in Microsoft Word, you can SAVE AS as pdf. NOTE: For offset printing, if you are using a design program (Illustrator, InDesign, CorelDraw) it is always best to convert all fonts to curves before sending a PDF.

When you area asked for artwork, please pay attention to what you are being asked for, there is a reason you are asked for that type of file. As always, if you need help, contact us, we are here to help you grow your business!

5 Tips to a Good Design

Graphic design is the process of visual communication to capture and engage viewers, generate interest or get a message across. A good design will make you feel something, compel you to read it or draw your attention. Make sure you have at least 3 of the fivethe following elements in your design.

1. Is there a focal point

The focal point is the main thing that you want the viewer to see, feel or understand. The following elements can be used to create a focal point: Size, Color, Framing or by Isolating. Isolation is separating the element from the rest of the design which brings focus to it.

2. Make sure your fonts work well together

For most designs, choosing one serif font and one sans-serif font is a good starting point.

• Never us a headline or script font or all caps for the text area of your design.
• Make sure all of your text is readable
• Use fonts that are clean and easy to read, especially for the body copy
• Size of the font is very important – make sure it is readable, but not too large
• If there is a background, make sure your font can still be easily read

3. Color and contrast

Color is a significant part of design, it dictates the mood and feel of the piece you are designing. Make sure your colors add interest, but do not fight with each other. A good rule of thumb is to consider colors that appear directly opposite or beside each other on the color wheel. Contrast is important because it draws the most important elements out and adds emphasis to them.

4. Good use of space

The parts of your design that you leave blank are just as important as the parts you fill. White space gives your design some breathing room it can also add interest if used correctly. If there is not enough, it looks crowded and hard to read, if there is too much, your design elements lose their relationship with each other.

5. Texture

Although you cannot feel texture in a printed piece or on a computer screen, the appearane of texture can add to your design. This can be accomplished using graduated color, layers, lines or shapes.

A good design is the key to getting your piece read, your brand recognized and your information remembered! If you need help, contact Handouts …WE DO THAT!