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.



CatPrint is a boutique color printing company offering premium short run printing via the internet. When founded in 2004, the company was operated out of the owner's basement. Today, CatPrint has expanded into a cutting-edge web establishment, employing a team of workers with expertise in the fields of graphic design, productions and customer service. We also guarantee the use of the largest and most innovative digital presses available to us. Throughout our development, we strive to remain a customer-conscious organization, always trying to offer the most satisfying printing experience. Remember, our main concern is always you – the customer!

Posted in Art and Design, Education, Home
2 comments on “What is CMYK?
  1. […] steps allow all 4 colors (CMYK) to be applied to the paper in one pass through the printer, unlike other printing options as […]


  2. Michael says:

    Cyan, magenta, Yellow and Black are the colors that offset printing press


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