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Archive for the ‘Graphic Design’ Category

Making Sense of Printer-Babble #1

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

I come from a long-line of designers and illustrators. My father owned  a highly successful graphics production house in San Diego for years, and before him, my grandfather was a skilled illustrator and designer. I myself and creeping up on *gasp* 20 years in design. With all of that exposure to design and print, certain terms are second-nature to me — CMYK, Process, PMS, RGB, Traps, Bleeds and a whole host of others that that typical lay-person might only have a glimmer of understanding about.

Like any technically-driven field, print (and design) has its own particular jargon, and that can be tricky to navigate. Hopefully these post helps you make sense of some of this techno-babble, and as a result, grants you a better understanding of what us printing nerds are saying!


If you only take one thing from this post, I hope it is this one, singular immutable fact: When it comes to print, CMYK=GOOD, RGB=BAD.

RGB is a color space (a way to identify and create colors) that relates to screens and monitors. Your computer moitor uses LCDs or LEDS that are Red, Green and Blue to create the colors, images and texts that you see on screen. CYMK is a color space that relates to how full-color images are printed on paper. CMYK, named for the inks that are mixed (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) in varying percentages, and is also known colloquially, because there are four inks, as “4-Color Process,” or just “Process” in the print world.

So what’s the issue, you might ask? Well, when you create a file as RGB, and then print it as CMYK, the colors of the image will actually shift, which can lead to unexpected results. Sometimes it might not be that big of a deal, and sometimes it could be the difference between it being your corporate colors, and someone else’s! The graphic included here shows the same colors, as rendered in each color space. You can see how different they are!

ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS design in CMYK if it’s going to be printed. If you’re not sure how the final piece will be used, design in CMYK. The conversion from to CMYK to RGB always works better than the other way around.

Hopefully this  has helped you understand the differences between RGB and CMYK. We’ll be periodically posting blogs about different terms and what they mean. Have a particular term or concept you’d like us to cover? Shoot me an email at stephen@printspartan.com.


Your Job Title Is Not What You Do

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014


transitive verb \fə-ˈsi-lə-ˌtāt\

: to make (something) easier : to help cause (something)

: to help (something) run more smoothly and effectively


When I first started in this business, A lot of my professional self-esteem was tied up in my job title. Graphic Designer, PrePress Specialist, Team Lead, etc etc. I took pride in my accomplishments (rightfully so) and the title that went along with it. Even today, the short answer when someone asks what I do is “Graphic Designer.”


CMYK vs. RGB vs. Spot – What does it all mean?

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

This is a question we get a lot here at Spartan. What is the difference between CMYK and RGB, and why does it matter? It gets even more confusing when you bring Spot colors into the mix.

To start with, CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key. Key? What color is “Key”? Well, in a nutshell, it’s black. The other three ink color plates are keyed to the black plate, hence the name. RGB stands for Red, Green, and Blue. The key difference between CMYK and RGB is how they function. As you add the four CMYK ink colors together, you get progressively darker and darker colors until you end up with black. CMYK is based on pigments. RGB, by contrast, is based on light. If you add all three colors together, you get pure white. In effect, CMYK and RGB are foils to eachother. CYMK is also referred to as process, or 4-color process.


Prepress Mistakes to Avoid

Monday, December 9th, 2013

PrePress is the process between the designer and the final printing. In the Spartan Printing PrePress area, most of the files that come in are usually electronic, either PDF or the application that the file is created in, what we would call a “native file.” Whether the project is an entire book or a simple envelope, you can save time, money, and a huge headache if you can avoid these ten common customer mistakes: (more…)

There and back again, A designer’s tale of paper to screen, back to paper

Friday, November 15th, 2013

The desire to be a continual learner has driven me all over the design spectrum.  I got my start in graphic design and prepress. Honing my design skills and learning the technical attributes of what it takes to put a design on the press successfully. I learned why it is not only important to have a good design, but to set up for files correctly, and having that knowledge makes you a more efficient and competent designer.