All About Printing Your Button Artwork: CMYK vs RGB March 29 2017

Designing button artwork takes some creativity with a just a little pinch of technical know-how. Many customers who order custom buttons inquire about the best file type for their button artwork, but another important aspect of button artwork is the color space in which it was created.

This blog post is dedicated to color spaces and what that means in relation to designing buttons :) Let's go!

 

WHAT IS A COLOR SPACE?

A color space is simply an organization or range of colors. You can think of a color space as palette of all the colors available for you to work with. The two color spaces that are most common when working in Photoshop or Illustrator are RGB and CMYK. What is the difference between the two? Quite a lot actually!

RBG vs CMYK, Color Space, Custom Button Design, Designing a pinback button

 

RGB COLOR SPACE

RGB in an acronym for Red, Green, and Blue, and is the color space used by electronic displays. You should be working in an RGB color space if the final product is going to be presented digitally on a screen, like a picture that's going on a website. Every color in an RGB color space is made of some combination of red, green, and blue.

CMYK COLOR SPACE

CMYK is an acronym that stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (which is black). You should be working in a CMYK color space if the final product is going to be printed, and not presented on a screen. The palette of colors that you can access in a CMYK color space can all be made by mixing different amounts of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black, the colors of ink used by a printer.

 

CMYK vs RGB colour space, Printing artwork, designing custom buttons,

 

WHY USE A CMYK COLOR SPACE INSTEAD OF RGB FOR DESIGNING BUTTONS?

The color spectrum in an RGB color space is vast, however, many of the colors are NOT able to be reproduced by a printer. Why not? Because the colors are just not able to be created by the mixing Cyan, Magenta,Yellow, and Black together. It uses a different palette of colors entirely.

If you do try and print out a file that was designed in RGB, you'll notice that the colors look pretty different than they do on the computer. This is because the printer has to substitute all of the RGB colors that it cannot create with a combination of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black ink.


LET'S GET VISUAL

Below is an example of a button design that was created in RGB. The vibrant green on the screen looks bright and saturated. This is because the colors present in the design are made up of Red, Green, and Blue, and are also back lit on the computer.

RGB vs CMYK button artwork, button design, colour space, Beside the digital button artwork designed in RGB is the same button, the only difference is that it was printed out on a laser printer. The RGB colors were substituted to CMYK, and the final printed art looks really different because there is a different color palette available.

The above picture sums up why it's important to design you button artwork in CMYK: you won't get any surprise colors!

BUT I REALLY WANT A NEON BUTTON...

neon paper, neon buttons, pre-cut paper circles, rbg vs cmyk colour space

Just because a nice vivid neon color can't be printed out on a printer, doesn't mean that there aren't other ways to achieve a vibrant, striking button.

A great way to achieve a neon look, is to print the button artowrk on a Dura-Lar transparency and pair it with bright paper. For extra sparkle, holographic foil or metallic foil can also be used to create something flashy and fabulous!

Watch the video "How-To Make Buttons With Dura-Lar" and get your neon on!