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Four color process is a system where a color image is divided into four color values that are transferred to printing plates and printed sequentially on a printing press. The four colors are cyan (C), magenta (M), yellow (Y) and black (K). Using these four colors at different values the press recreates the original image with inks.
CMYK vs. RGB
No, we're not speaking in acronyms! Most computers give you the option of creating files in one of two color spaces: CMYK or RGB. CMYK stands for the four colors used for four-color process printing (cyan, magenta, yellow and black). RGB is the color space typically used on computer monitors and stands for red (R), green (G) and blue (B). RGB are the primary colors of light. Because CMYK is expressly designed for the four-color printing process, we recommend you create your documents in this color space rather than RGB.
If you send us an RGB file, we can convert it to CMYK. However, this standard value conversion may not yield the result you are looking for. RGB looks good on a computer monitor but tends not to produce the same results when printing. CMYK is a better approximation of how colors will look in print.
Please note that while we print every project in keeping with "pleasing color" standards, we make no guarantee that the color you see on your computer monitor or your color printer will approximate your finished piece printed via the CMYK process. Wide variation in color spaces, technologies and calibrations of different monitors and printers may preclude an exact match. If color accuracy is important to your project, we recommend reviewing a high quality color proof (click here for more information).
Converting RGB Files to CMYK
There are colors you may see in RGB that cannot be made with CMYK. They are considered by the translator as "out of the CMYK color gamut" and the translator comes as close as possible to matching the original. While this may be less noticeable in an image, it is more noticeable for colors used in type or solid color areas. Therefore, we recommend you select colors for fonts or other design elements in the layout using CMYK definitions. This will give you a better idea of how your printed pieces will look.
Following is a list of several common design and publishing programs with instructions on how to make sure you are working in the CMYK color space. If you need additional help with CMYK, please feel free to call us at 1-877-336-9666 (toll free).
Microsoft Publisher defaults to RGB. To convert or start a document in a CMYK color space use the following menu options: Tools/Commercial Printing Tools/Color Printing and select Process colors (CMYK). Please note that all images incorporated into a layout need to be linked, not embedded, in order to maintain the CMYK color space within the image. You can accomplish this by following these menu options: Tools/Commercial Printing Tools/Graphics Manager and highlight the embedded image. Click Link and click Browse to locate the original file and link to it. Don't forget to send us both the images and the layout file.
For an existing file, select the following menu options: Image/Mode/CMYK. When starting a new file, select CMYK for the mode before clicking OK.
Use the following menu options to convert or create files with CMYK: Edit/Edit Colors/Show Colors in Use/Highlight Color and click Edit. Change model to CMYK and deselect Spot color.
For an existing file, select the following menu options: Edit/Select All and then Filter/Colors/Convert to CMYK. For a new file, select File/New and select CMYK color for the Color Mode.
Select each object you want to convert. Select the Fill tool and click Fill Color Dialog. Make sure the Color model is CMYK. For each object with an outline, select the Outline tool and click the Outline Color Dialog. Make sure the Color model is CMYK.
For new or existing documents, use the following menu options: Window/Swatches and Window/Color. Double click color in Swatches Change color mode to CMYK and color type to Process. Any colors created in the document that are not in the Swatches palette need to be changed to the CMYK color space as well. Select each object you want to convert and make sure the Color palette reflects the CMYK percentages. Click the top right arrow in the palette to change to CMYK if necessary.
Use the following menu options: Window/Show Colors. Double click "Colors" in palette and select Model to be CMYK and Type to be Process. Please note that PageMaker does not successfully represent CMYK color on the monitor.
For some additional resources to help you understand color, CMYK and RGB, visit http://80211-planet.webopedia.com/TERM/C/CMYK.html.
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