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How to Get a Picture-Perfect Print? RGB vs CMYK

How to Get a Picture-Perfect Print? RGB vs CMYK
March 6 2020

Do you also get a tempting feeling of visiting any place after you see its Instagrammy beauty? 

You actually plan even if broke, to wander, explore and of course click some Instagram-worthy pictures.

But how many times does it happen that you get to experience the exact sight?

Let’s find out.

Here we’ve put together some of the popular Instagram vs reality pictures.

Place: Lempuyang Temple in Bali

Temple in Bali

(Source: Instagram)

What about this?

Place: The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China

(Source: Instagram)

Or this?

Place: Mount Fuji (Japan)

Mount Fuji

(Source: Instagram)

The truth is, we often get blindsided by the pictures, not knowing that it is actually an illusion of filters, color corrections, light adjustments, and whatnot.

As long as these are the tourist destinations, people will anyway get out of their homes and go there. But in your web-to-print business, customers would not be okay if they did not receive the print they actually created in your web-to-print store.

It is important that the product your customers receive has the same color prints they see on the screen.

Hence, in this blog, we will give some important tips to make sure your printed colors are the same as the picture colors.

While there is enough debate about whether you should offer CMYK in your e-store or not, first let’s understand the actual difference.


All the colors we can see with our eyes are part of the visible color spectrum.

Here is the spectrum.


(Source: stock.adobe)

While working on the computer screen, because of the technical limitations, the system cannot display all the colors that our eye can see. That’s why they display colors on the RGB space.

RGB works on the three colors, Red, Green, and Blue. This color space uses these three colors to form new colors. So, if you want to show the yellow, the RGB pixel would shine green and red light together, leaving the blue one-off.

It is best for:

Digital purposes.

Because any image appears on a digital screen will be displayed in RGB. It would go for anything that involves computers, smartphones, tablets, TVs, cameras, etc.


It is the opposite of RGB. It stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key(Black). It uses colored ink to mask colors on a light background. The background reflects light, so each layer of ink subtracts from the white light and make new colors.

To simplify, imagine drawing with crayon colors. When you combine two different colors/shades, you’ll get a new color. That’s how CMYK works.

It is best for:

Products with printable surfaces. This means if you offer products like apparel, mugs, posters, etc. CMYK should be the color space you should go for.


(Source: Decalimpressions)

Is it okay to design in RGB and Print in CMYK Space?

As the most printers in the world use CMYK color space, offering CMYK color palette when customers design their products can make a difference. RGB being the norm when it comes to designing, there are colors that will change when converted to CMYK color space. For the demonstration purpose, see the below example. The first wheel is designed in RGB and then converted to CMYK. While most colors shifted subtly, the electric blue, yellow, and green received the most dramatic shift.


(Source: RedBubble)

The Benefits:

- Offering to design in CMYK space means no dramatic color shifts when you export your designs as PNG, and then back to CMYK

- You get accurate prints

- Gives you control over your designs and less rework in the long run

- Increases customer satisfaction and their trust towards your brand

CMYK space for the designing

Designing products with CMYK color space will eliminate any possible problems of mismatching colors from their screen display to your print.

To see how this color palette would work when designing products, you can check out our demo.

Can I convert RGB files to CMYK files?

Yes, you can. But even after converting to CMYK, you may notice color differences leading to a lot of editing and corrections. Hence, it is best to offer design in CMYK color space to avoid any printing glitches.

File types and specs


- Supports RGB and RGB Color Modes

- Supports transparent background

- Best for apparel, all other products


- Supports RGB, sRGB and CMYK Color Modes

- Does not support transparent background

- Not necessary that it should work for everything that has a transparent background

Hence, for the products where your customers want a transparent background, you will require a PNG file format. However, PNG files do not support the CMYK space, which means your customers can design the image in CMYK mode to reflect the CMYK color gamut.


The one thing you need to remember is that final prints play a major part in the customer experience of your business. Hence, making sure that you deliver exactly what your customers see on the screen should not be the second in your priority list!

All product and company names are trademarks™, registered® or copyright© trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

Chandni Pandya

With a certification in content marketing and vast experience of digital marketing, Chandni Pandya currently holds the position of Deputy Content Editor at Brush Your Ideas. She loves writing printing-related blogs and keeps reading about the printing industry from various sources. A firm believer of equality and a lover of poetry, she encourages everyone to lead a healthy lifestyle. Offer her green smoothies and not coffee. Smoothies are her love!