Why do artwork files need to be set up in CMYK and not RGB?

Easy Signs require print ready artwork files to be set up as CMYK - and not RGB.

This is because our printers print in CMYK - so setting up the files this way will ensure that the colours printed on the signs are as close as possible to the colours expected by our customers.

Want to know more? We will explain the differences between RGB and CMYK and how to set up your artwork file in CMYK.

When designing artwork with a software program there are two main colour modes that you can use to create your design or artwork:

a) RGB (Red, Green, and Blue) (often referred to as a subtractive colour format) and

b) CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key) (known as an additive colour format)


RGB has a larger ‘colour gamut’ (available colours to choose from) than CMYK, and is often referred to as a subtractive colour mode as subtracting Red, Green or Blue colours will result in a darker colour until you eventually get black at R=0, G=0, B=0.

This colour mode is great for designing web pages, or any other design that will be shown on a screen. Not only will you get bright colours, but the screens use the basis of RGB to display colour in each screen pixel, so your design should look just the way you hoped when it appears onscreen.


CMYK is alternatively referred to as an additive colour mode. By adding the colours Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (black), the basic ink colours in printing, you will eventually get a rich black (C=100, M=100, Y=100, K=100). This is how the latest technology brings your amazing designs to life, with high quality inks supplied in CMYK that are printed over 100,000 drops every 1cm2.

Pantone (PMS) Colours:

Many brands may choose to specify a Pantone (PMS) Colour to ensure that their brand colours are printed consistently. Pantone colours can be added to CMYK and RGB files. In CMYK files Pantone colours can be represented in two ways; either a CMYK breakdown (note that this may look visually different to the original Pantone colour) or by adding the colour to the file as a named colour.

Easy Signs have the latest technology systems that will identify Pantone Colours in files and emulate that colour as closely as possible.

Why are CMYK files more colour consistent when printed?

CMYK files are more consistent when printed for two reasons:

1) The colour on the screen will be reproduced more accurately

2) We print with CMYK inks so we regularly monitor our equipment to ensure that our prints today should match our prints months and years from now. RGB colours cannot be monitored.

Screen Colour vs Ink Colour:

As previously mentioned, RGB colours have a wider colour gamut so a colour that is bright with lots of light on your screen may not be possible to achieve with CMYK inks. This can be demonstrated below by designing two files using the same software, but one using RGB and the other CMYK colour modes.

See below the preview of a file in RGB (left) versus CMYK (right) on the screen. As seen, RGB colours will ultimately look brighter.

However, when the file is set up for print production, you can see how the conversion can affect colours. As seen, RGB colours change dramatically - however the CMYK colours remain consistent:

Monitoring Ink Colour for consistency

Easy Signs controls the consistency of how our inks are printed monthly. We do this by monitoring what we call ‘grey balance’. Grey balance is the control and regular evaluation of CMY to consistently get good greys. By balancing these colours, we can ensure that all colours in the CMYK spectrum are consistent, and are printing just the way they should.

Unfortunately, we have no way of controlling RGB colours when converted - one of the main reasons we don’t recommend files to be supplied in RGB format.

So how do you save a file in CMYK Format?

There are many design programs available to make print ready artwork, which allow you to easily set up colours in CMYK. However, please see below some quick steps you can follow for the main design programs used.

If the design program that you are using is not listed, then please refer to the software help menu or the software provider’s website:


To convert the colour mode to CMYK using Indesign you can click Window> Colour> Dropdown button in the top right corner> CMYK

Adobe Photoshop:

To convert the colour mode to CMYK using Adobe Photoshop you can follow the below menu path:

Adobe Illustrator:

To convert the colour mode to CMYK using Adobe Illustrator you can follow the below menu path:

Microsoft Publisher:

To convert the colour mode to CMYK using Microsoft Publisher you can follow the below menu path:

We hope this information will help you to create your artwork in the correct format. This will make sure that we can print your signs in the highest quality and meet your colour expectations.

For more information, please reach out to our Customer Happiness Team on 1300 972 077 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)