What does CMYK stand for?

CMYK stands for the four primary ink colours used in full-colour printing:

  • Cyan: A blue-ish green colour
  • Magenta: A reddish-purple colour
  • Yellow: A bright, warm yellow colour
  • Black: Used to add depth and darkness to the other colours
How does CMYK print digital colours?

Whether printing a brochure, poster, or photograph, CMYK printers accurately match and replicate the colours seen on a digital display by combining percentages of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black on a white background. This ensures that the printed output closely matches the intended design.


CMYK and RGB are two colour-mixing modes in graphic design.



CMYK is the colour mode for printing with ink. It is specifically designed for printing, considering factors like ink absorption and colour mixing. CMYK uses a subtractive process, starting with a white background (like white printer paper) and slowly adding more colour until the desired colour is achieved.



RGB is the colour mode used on bright electronic displays like the one you’re reading right now. It uses an additive process, starting with a dark background and adding light until the desired colour is achieved.

Related Terms

Graphic Design

Graphic designers manage the visual identity of a brand from the logo to the colour palette to the illustrations. Graphic design is often used in a wide range of marketing materials.  

Logo Design

Logos imbue your brand’s overarching messaging, feeling, or story within one graphic or glyph. 


Branding is the process of creating a uniquely identifiable company or product and promoting it via marketing and advertising. It includes the name, logo, and overall design.