Graphic Design for the Web vs Print

Graphic Design for the Web

  • Color Mode: RGB
  • Resolution: 72+
  • Size: Pixels

Graphic Design for Print

  • Color Mode: CMYK
  • Resolution: 300+
  • Size: Inches/Feet

This is definitely a super simple explanation of the differences and procedure, but I’m offering this up for people searching the web looking for simple answers, not essays.

  • Why the variation in color space, RGB vs. CMYK. In photo 101 at EVCC they had me use adobe RGB 1998 because it includes it inlcudes most of the colors available in CMYK but using only RGB primary colors. Because of the variations in printers, it is probably best to check which color space would be best for a particular printer you intend to use. As for the net why use RGB over sRGB?

  • For people local to Seattle, there is a class “Color Management for the Web” being presented at Adobe’s Fremont campus, June 9th. Here’s the link

  • That’s where the “super simple explanation” part comes in. There is indeed an infinite amount of different setups a printer/printing company could have. If you’re talking about printing for Disneyland or MTV or some other corporation it actually gets very technical, but of course there is no exact science with printing.

    You’re right in some scenarios/setups it is appropriate or okay to print straight from a RGB file. However, most clients that I’ve designed magazine ads, logos, brochures, product labels etc. for when they send the files to their printer/printing company there are often very strict rules for how they have everything setup.

    Every professional printing company I’ve prepared a file for has demanded (and I mean demand because they won’t prepare a file themselves and they won’t print it unless it’s to their standard) has strictly asked for CMYK. The whole setup is always different though, here are some examples:

    – CMYK, PDF, Layered, Include Font Files

    – CMYK, PSD, Layered

    – CMYK, JPEG, Flattened

    – CMYK, AI, Flattened

    …and different variations of the above.

    In general, the point of preparing a file for print by converting to CMYK (what printers use to print), not to mention adding a bleed space is to not have any huge unexpected changes when you print from what you see on screen.

    Personally, I don’t care, I print my business cards from RGB and I like them just fine. But, then again I’m not McDonald’s that has spent $100’s of thousands of dollars with a marketing team finding the perfect yellow that makes people hungry ;).

    Adobe RGB 1998 may be safe to use for print purposes, but it should definitely not be used for web graphics. By default, I think about 90% of people use sRGB, and there are differences. I used Adobe RGB 1998 at one point and I’ve had some “that doesn’t look right” moments.

    By the way, when I say RGB, I basically mean sRGB, which simply means standard Red Green Blue.

    I wanted to point out that although Elgin is correct in depending on a printers/printing companies setup you may in fact be asked for RGB files, you should however never use CMYK on the web, besides PDF, images will not show properly and will appear corrupt. The average monitor displays RGB at a resolution of 96.

  • Thanks for the super explaination! I will have to change my colorspace on to be sRGB because I’m thinking it’s setup in Adobe 1998. Having never personaly dealt with print companies I find it interesting to hear your experiences with thier requirements.