CMYK, Pantone, RGB and Hex Color Models

Confession: Long before I knew better about the printing process and color models, I designed a bright, colorful poster. It was part of a last-minute Christmas present for my niece who was all about hot pink, vibrant purple, and dancing and just had her bedroom redecorated to reflect her energetic style.

I finalized my design and happily moseyed over to my printer to collect the finished product–only to be smacked in the face with this imposter poster. It was my design, yes. But who on earth switched out the colors? Why was it this muddy mauve and overripe purple instead of my electric hues I so carefully selected? Needless to say, the poster never made it to the gift wrapping station.

This naive experience of mine represents a classic case of misunderstanding the printing process. I didn’t realize that what I saw on my screen wouldn’t translate verbatim onto my printed piece.

Colors are represented in different ways depending on the medium through which they are being displayed. Print and onscreen digital mediums each require their own color models to display colors as intended by the producer. If these color models are ignored, your outcome will be as disappointing as my poster mishap.

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