Talking RGB & YMCK Like It’s NBD

For this entry, I thought I would talk about a recent conversation I had with a friend of mine who went to school for graphic design! We were going for a drive when I brought up the fact that we had started using Photoshop in this course (though in my case ‘using’ is a far leap from ‘hoping this click makes everything right’.)

As much we have dealt with RGB & CMYK in this course and while we did indeed discuss it in class, I still had a few questions about the main difference. Asking for an answer that was as simply as possible despite the complexity of the difference, he simply said that RGB takes up less data, follows a colour system that works with a lot of electronics and was often a go-to. CMYK on the other hand, offers images a look that is a bit more realistic, a bit more vivid but at the use of a lot of data which as both Williams and my friend pointed out, is why it is mostly used for print. The picture posted helps to represent this.

rgb-and-cmykIn my naivety, before I had learned the data value difference, I asked why web sites and electronic screens did not use CYMK due to its visual superiority to which the reply was “you could, but it would take –a lot- of data to get the image where it was and the change isn’t worth the processing power”.

Though, as my friend pointed out, there was the addition of yellow to the RGB colour system in a new television thanks to SHARP with their AQUOS television and ‘Quattron’ technology (George Takei commercial included). This is something of a jump ahead as far as colour is concerned, though not much has been told of its other applications and there are those who say the difference is rather minimal as most channels use RGB and the colour is only added through video processing.

In the end, the Williams did a good job summarizing the systems with the following:
‘Use CYMK for projects that are to be printed.
Use RGB for anything that will be viewed on a screen.’

Technology is still advancing rather rapidly forward however, so it is anyone’s guess as to how long we will keep the RGB system as processing power increases and the issue of screen colour diminishes. Who knows? It will be interesting to see how this all goes as we advance away from flat-screen viewing and start to go into holographics.

– Stephen A


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