In order to be successful in owning a SignWorld business one of the key areas you must have knowledge in is printing.  Diving deeper, one of the most important elements of printing is of course, color.  Without proper coloring, the signs you print will be boring, and unattractive – they won’t really “pop”.


Because sometimes the color looks different on the computer screen than it does when you go to print it, there are different types of color modes when it comes to designing signage. The job of these color modes is to tell the computer which exact colors to print, try to think of them as a separate language made for certain situations, that are all trying to explain the same thing.


Two of the most frequently used ones are called RGB and CMYK.  We are going to go over them, but first we must talk a little about how as humans, our eyes see color.


Upon studying light, Sir Isaac Newton discovered that color is not a natural property in any given object.  Let’s take the grass for example, the color green is not actually part of the grass.  What is happening here, is that the surface of the grass is merely reflecting the light wavelengths that we see as green and then absorbing the rest.  The green light wavelengths then travel into our eyes and are collected by the rods and cones in the back of our eyes.  These rods and cones determine what we see. The cones let us see color, and the rods establish weather something is black or white.


Now that we understand this, let’s talk about RGB and CMYK


RGB – If you haven’t already guessed, RGB stands for Red, Green, and Blue.  In this color mode, all colors are comprised of a mixture of these three colors.


RGB is known as additive color, which means in this color mode, all colors begin with black, and then different colors of lights are added to produce color.  Light reflection is used with additive color, the more of a certain color you add, the closer it is to becoming pure white, therefore the less amount of color that is added, the closer to black it becomes


This color mode is used in anything that is light-based.  For example cameras, computer screens, and even the television in your living room uses the RGB color mode.


CMYK – This color mode stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (which is Black).  All color modes are created using a mixture of these colors.  The CMYK color mode is important to SignWorld Business owners.


The CMYK color mode is different from RBG as these colors are subtractive, not additive.  The difference is these colors absorb light rather than reflect it so all colors begin white and the more colors that are added, the closer to black it becomes.


You can find the CMYK color mode in anything printed e.g. signs, posters, books, and more.


How are these color modes represented?

RGB gives a number from 0 to 255 for each of its three colors.  The numbers tell the computer how much of each colored light to produce. For example 0-0-0 will give you black, while 255-255-255 gives you pure white.


CMYK is represented in percentages from 0 to 100.  100-100-100-100 will result in pure black, and 0-0-0-0 gives you white.


Having a basic understanding of RGB vs CMYK, will help you to have a better idea of why and how color seems to change between the computer screen and your printed signs.


About Signworld

Signworld is a national organization with more than 240 independently owned sign companies, which provide commercial custom signage and graphics. It’s personable, creative, rewarding and ideal for people-oriented individuals who have the desire to learn how to manage a sales and production business. Signworld has been a part of the industry’s profit and fun since 1988. With over 27 years in the business, Signworld has established itself as the leader in the no-royalties and no-rules sign business concept. The ongoing support and training along with state-of-the-art equipment helps leave the competition behind. For more details visit –


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