What is CMYK?

Crunchy Marshmallow Yogurt Krisps

It’s probably safe to say that one of the things that has stuck with most of us since elementary school art classes is that RED, BLUE and YELLOW are primary colors. Mixing varying amounts of those three colors will give you the rest of the rainbow. As it turns out, we were all learning the basics of color printing.

CMYK Basics

CMYK is the color model made up of four primary inks that combine in our printer to create the full spectrum that artists need for their work. C stands for Cyan, a type of blue; red is replaced with Magenta; the Y is still Yellow; and the K actually means Key Black.

Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow don’t actually create a complete black when mixed on their own, so the designers of this model designated a true or ‘key’ black to be added when CMY aren’t enough.

CMYK is known as a subtractive color model. We see color when light reflects off a surface into the photoreceptors of our eyes. When a young aspiring artist covers a sheet of paper in finger paint in art class, they’re subtracting the amount of light bounces off that paper and therefore changes the color that they see.


2 thoughts on “What is CMYK?

  1. Pingback: Easy Guide to Digital Printing | CatPrint.com, LLC

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