When creating packaging designs for print, you’ll likely encounter the terms RGB, CMYK, and PMS. Understanding these color systems is key to ensuring your designs look their best in print. Let’s break down what each system means and how it’s used.

What is RGB?

RGB stands for Red, Green, and Blue. This color model is additive, meaning colors get brighter as you add more light. RGB colors are created by mixing varying intensities of red, green, and blue light.

Because RGB colors are light-based, they’re primarily used for digital displays like computer screens and phones. This makes RGB unsuitable for printed materials, which rely on ink to create colors.

What is CMYK?

CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (black). It’s a subtractive color model used in printing. Unlike RGB, CMYK colors get darker as you add more ink.

The four primary inks in CMYK are mixed in various proportions to create the desired shade. This model is widely used for packaging as it’s cost-effective due to lower ink consumption.

When designing packaging dieline, ensure your digital files are in CMYK mode, not RGB. This ensures the colors on your screen more closely match what’ll be printed. Converting from RGB to CMYK midway can cause color shifts, as CMYK tones tend to be less vibrant than RGB.

What is PMS?

PMS stands for Pantone Matching System, often simply called Pantone. It’s a standardized color system with thousands of pre-mixed colors. Pantone colors are known for their exceptional consistency and accuracy in printing.

Use Pantone when precise color matching is critical. Iconic examples include Tiffany Blue or Coca-Cola Red – these brands require absolute consistency to maintain their image.

While Pantone colors are pricier than CMYK, the investment is worth it for guaranteed color accuracy and brand consistency.