shutterstock_53569513 23 Jan

What is CMYK?

CMYK, its a term that is always used in printing but you’ll be surprised how many people don’t know what it actually means.

Colour printing typically uses four ink colours; Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. The first three letters are self explanatory, but where does the K come from? Here’s the technical bit, the ‘K’ stands  for key, because in  four colour printing , Cyan, Magenta and Yellow printing plates are carefully keyed or aligned with the KEY of the black key plate. Its has also been said that the ‘K’ comes from last letter in ‘Black’ and was chosen because ‘B’ was already used  as Blue in RGB (That’s another term for another day).

When Cyan, Magenta and Yellow (primaries) are combined at full strength, they create the ‘secondary’ colours Red, Green and Blue. Mixing all three primaries together you get an imperfect Black. This Black is not really good enough to use in print  due to slow drying, causing bleeding and weakening the paper with ink overload. So that’s why there is the fourth ink Black.


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