Arvest Press Inc.

252R Calvary Street
Waltham, MA 0245

Fax: 781.894.4434

Open Monday thru Friday
8:00am to 5:00pm


Directions to Arvest

Arvest Impressions:

An inside look at the printing process

In Armenian, the word Arvest means "art". At Arvest Press we love what we do, and treat each new printing project with the artistic care of a skilled craftsperson. This passion translates to a high level of customer satisfaction, and top quality products.
Colors: RGB vs. CMYK



Color is a byproduct of light and created when light is either reflected off of an object or viewed from the source. As an example, light beams passed through a prism changes direction, and if you point the prism toward a wall, a spectrum of color can be seen. Rainbows are similar light refracted through water particles in the air. Humans only perceive a small portion of this light spectrum and it is the frequency of the wavelength that determines the color we see. All colors have their own wavelength. Some are lower than visible ligh, like Infrared, microwave, and radio waves, while others are higher like ultraviolet, X-rays and gamma rays.

The primary colors of light are red, green (not yellow) and blue, commonly referred to as RGB. These are the colors we view together on our computer monitors, televisions and handheld devices. RGB is considered an additive color system, meaning we start with black as the absence of light and add color to it. So in Photoshop’s color picker, we create black in the RGB spectrum by setting the RGB values to 0, but white is created by adding the three colors in equal value (R255,G255,B255). All other screen colors are created by mixing various combinations of RGB. The secondary colors of RGB are CMY (Cyan, magenta, yellow).

CMYK, on the other hand, is a subtractive color system. The CMY refers to the primary values in the system, cyan (C), magenta (M) and yellow (Y), and the letter "K" stands for black. The subtractive color process is based on light being reflected from an object and absorbing color waves. Most printing begins with a white sheet of paper. To produce color on the paper, we use CMY to act as a filter for the RGB waves in different combinations. In theory, CMY should be all we need to create black, but the reality is the blending of CMY on paper results in a dark, muddy brown. Black ink is added to boost the shadow areas and give the piece a true black. The secondary colors of the subtractive system are RGB (red, green and blue), the primary colors of the additive system.

All good science, but what does it really mean? Mostly, what you view on screen as you are creating your artwork is difficult and sometimes impossible to produce on paper, at least without some tweaking. A great example of the kind of color shift you might encounter is working with rich blues. Often on the screen the blues will have a deep color, like ocean water, but when they are produced for print in CMYK, the color will shift to a purplish blue. It’s important to know what your artwork might be used for, and when you plan to print the piece, it is good  practice to create your images and graphics using the CMYK gamut for color.

Best practice is to always proof your artwork before it is printed, something we insist on here at Arvest Press.


Next Blog: Paper

Add a Comment

(Enter the numbers shown in the above image)