Do you know your color values?

Unless you are a designer who deals with printing, you might not know the difference between RGB, CMYK and hex color values. If you aren’t a designer at all and you don’t know the difference, don’t feel bad – not even all designers really know the difference. It’s good business practice to know all three color values in your businesses logo or brand to be prepared for whatever medium you might want to promote your business in in the future.

  • If you want to print on cups, t-shirts, posters, stationary, billboards, and so on you will need to know the CMYK value of the colors you want to print.
  • If you plan on promoting on television, electronic billboards, on your website or the internet abroad, you will need to know the RGB value and consequently the hex value of your colors.
  • If you are designing in Photoshop, you can see the different values of a color in the color picker dialog box:

Color Values

RGB stands for red, green and blue and these are the colors that make up the tiny pixels on your television and computer screen. The #d70f0f is how we define color on the web and is based on the RGB value system. CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, yellow and black. This color value system is used mainly for printing. In general, RGB colors have a wider variety and are more vibrant than CMYK.

Here is a brief description of each value system.

Red Green Blue (RGB)

When looking at colors on your computer screen or television, the colors you see are generated by red, green and blue light. The process is additive because the varying amount of each color used produces the colors you see. This means that you need 100% red light, 100% blue light, and 100% green light to create white on the screen. The key here is light. Therefore, to produce black, the RGB light sources must be at zero.

Hexadecimal Value (Hex Color)

This numerical value system is based on the RGB color scheme because it defines the colors used on the web, which we view on a screen. It is a 6 digit color with each color being represented by two digits ranging from 00 (zeros) to FF. White is represented by FFFFFF and black is 000000. Along these lines, if you wanted 100% green the value would be 00FF00, etc.

Cyan Magenta Yellow Black (CMYK)

Unlike RGB, the CMYK color value system is subtractive, meaning that the more colors you add the darker it appears. This is the color scheme used by paper printers and screen printers. The additive nature of this system requires the addition of ‘K’, black. The main difference between CMYK and RGB is that RGB has more colors, and those colors are more vibrant.
Now you know more about color values and their many uses than some designers. Not only will this knowledge help you create a more comprehensive brand identity for your business, but it will hopefully prevent you from a nasty surprise when you get a product back from a printer or designer with colors you weren’t expecting.

Quit Monkeying Around! Join the Zoo.™