How to Choose the Proper Color Scheme for Printing and the Internet

  1. The Difference Between the CMYK, RGB, and Pantone Color Schemes
  2. Where to Use the Color Schemes
  3. What Do You Need to Know About the Logo Pre-Pressing
  4. Choosing the Method of Logo Printing

If you’ve ever had business cards or calendars printed, you’ve probably heard of the CMYK, RGB, and Pantone color schemes. It is important to understand them so that the logo and other identity elements can be correctly displayed both on printed products and online. We have prepared a detailed guide to three models for you to learn how to apply them correctly.

The Difference Between the CMYK, RGB, and Pantone Color Schemes

The colors on your screen are different from those on paper. To understand the reason, let us understand the three main color models.


The scheme was named after four colors: cyan, magenta, yellow, and key. The combinations of these inks create different color schemes for full-color printing. CMYK is used with both conventional printers and printing machines in print shops.

How It Works

Do you remember mixing paints on a white sheet of paper until it turned black as a child? That’s how CMYK works: the minimum intensity of four colors gives white and the maximum intensity black

The ink is applied to paper by dots that a printer or printing press applies one upon another in different combinations. If you zoom the printed product you can see the colored dots that create the necessary shades.

CMYK color scheme


The color of the text you are currently reading on the screen is reproduced using the RGB model: red, green, and blue colors. The combinations of them give us millions of colors we see on the screens of various electronic devices such as computers, cell phones, and TV sets.

How It Works

If red, green, and blue are increased in intensity to the maximum and combined, the pixels on the screen will become white. When there are no colors on the screen (a computer or a phone is turned off), it will turn black. With the RGB model various shades are formed by combining the scheme colors: e.g. red + green = yellow, and blue + green = cyan. However, it should be mentioned that all screens have different color rendering: the green Starbucks logo or the yellow-and-blue IKEA logo will look different on iMac, Asus, or Samsung.

RGB color scheme


This is the company that created the international standardized color matching system – Pantone Matching System (PMS). Each of them is assigned a unique number, to avoid inconsistencies while printing in any country. You can be sure that Marsala 18-1438 in New York, Berlin, and Shanghai will be exactly the same. 

How It Works

The combinations of 13 basic colors and black give more than 2,000 unique shades.


Where to Use the Color Schemes

Each of the three models has its own codes for shades. Once you’ve identified the brand’s corporate colors, write their codes in CMYK, RGB, and Pantone to see how such well-known companies as Audi or FedEx do it. Read more to learn how to put them into practice.


Use for printing business cards, leaflets, posters, postcards, calendars, and packaging materials. This prevents the colors you work with from being displayed incorrectly on the Internet.

CMYK printing


Suitable for any digital products: mobile apps, websites, social media profiles, and online advertising. It will convey a wide diversity of colors.

RGB for any digital products


Use it to avoid misunderstandings with web studios and print shops. All you need to do is to tell the code to the designer or printer. In print shops, the CMYK combination is selected for each Pantone color. 

Pantone color 16-1546 TCX

What Do You Need to Know About the Logo Pre-Pressing

Imagine that you’ve designed a logo and are going to print it on business cards or letterheads. To reach the desired result, follow these simple steps:

  • The simpler the color scheme of a logo is, the easier it is to reproduce it properly. The ZenBusiness Online Generator will help you choose the right colors for your logo. The service has ready-made palettes, so all you have to do is save those that match your corporate identity.
  • Change the color scheme from RGB to CMYK before sending the file to the print shop. This can be done in most graphic editors such as Illustrator, Photoshop, or InDesign.
  • Save a backup copy of the image before conversion because the RGB color values will be changed. If you do not save the file in RGB, you will lose the data for displaying the products in digital format.

Choosing the Method of Logo Printing

It depends on what shades you need, what print run is expected, and how urgently you need the result.

Offset Printing

Offset means “without contact with the form” and corresponds to its principle. The image is put on the printed form, then on the offset roller, and finally on paper. This method helps to achieve excellent quality and color rendering. Offset is divided into two types depending on the color type used (process colors or spot colors).

The spot colors method requires no color separation. It is any of the four CMYK tones, as well as neon, bronze, silver, or complex shades of the Pantone palette. This method gives quality results and is suitable for the following cases:

  • your logo has few colors (preferably one or two);
  • you have selected a color from the Pantone scheme and want it to be reproduced with maximum precision.
The spot colors method

The process colors method requires color separation, so this way is used when printing multicolor images. 

The process colors method

Both methods can be combined for one product. For example, for the logo on the letterhead, the spot colors method can be used while the process colors method can be applied for the photo on the same letterhead.

Digital Printing

Printing on any digital printer from a standard home printer to a professional one. In this case, you save time on pre-pressing (color separation and adjustment) but don’t get perfect quality. We advise you to choose it in the cases when:

  • you need a small print run, e.g. 20 business cards or 5 calendars (in this case the offset will be too expensive);
  • you want your order to be done quickly;
  • you don’t have to reproduce complex shades.
Digital Printing
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