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Cyan, magenta, yellow, key (CMYK)

What is CMYK?

The CMYK color model is a subtractive color model used in color printing. CMYK is an abbreviation of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (black) colors. CMYK represents the four primary ink colors used in the printing process. Each letter in CMYK corresponds to one of the colors: C for cyan, M for magenta, Y for yellow, and K for key (black).

The RGB color mode, on the other hand, is used for digital displays such as computer screens. While RGB colors are used for displaying colors on a computer screen, CMYK colors are used for color printing. The CMYK color space is specifically designed for the printing process, where inks are applied to paper to create the desired colors. CMYK colors are subtractive because inks absorb light and produce darker tones when combined.

The color printing process typically involves converting colors from the RGB color mode (used for digital displays) to the CMYK color mode (used for printing) to ensure accurate color reproduction on the printed material.

What is CMYK used for?

The CMYK color model is primarily used for commercial printing and reproducing full-color images accurately in printed materials. It’s commonly used in the process of creating color prints.

The CMYK color model replicates a wide range of colors by overlaying different percentages of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black inks in a dot pattern. This dot pattern, known as halftone printing, consists of tiny dots of varying sizes and densities that create the illusion of continuous tones and colors when viewed from a distance.

White light, which is composed of all visible colors in the RGB color model, is subtracted in the CMYK color model. The ink absorbs specific wavelengths of light, allowing only certain colors to be reflected to the viewer. By combining the subtractive properties of cyan, magenta, and yellow inks along with the key (black) ink, a wide range of colors can be achieved in the printing process.

Printing presses are used in commercial printing to apply the CMYK inks onto the printing substrate, such as paper or other materials. These presses use rollers and plates to transfer the inks onto the substrate in a precise and controlled manner, ensuring accurate color reproduction.

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