September 25, 2020

The differences between RGB and CMYK color profiles

RGB vs CMYK Color Space

Using the correct color profile when designing can make a huge difference in the quality of the end product but it can be confusing to know when to use RGB and CMYK color profiles.

In this article, you will learn the differences between RGB and CMYK color profiles and which one is better to use for print-on-demand products.

RGB Colors

The RGB color profile is the color system coded into computers, it is the best way to effectively represent colors on your screen as the screen is displayed to you by light. By blending Red, Green, and Blue your display creates new colors as you can see the RGB range below. For example, if you wanted to show yellow, your display would use green and red to show it. The RGB color system is versatile and has a wide range of color or combinations.

Since RGB colors are used for digital purposes, any images displayed on a digital screen will be shown in RGB. This is particularly important to remember since the designs will most likely be created with computer software, such as Photoshop or something similar.

CMYK and Why It Should Be Used for Printing Your Designs

It is highly advisable to use the CMYK – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (another word for black) for your designs. This color mix is used for any of printing and will best match the printing outcome of what is shown to your customers.

The CMYK color profile looks like this:

You can combine any of these colors to create one of the RGB colors. It is the opposite of the RGB color profile.

The CMYK color profile is slightly more limited than RGB so you may be tempted not to use it. However, we strongly advise using CMYK for your designs as it is the most commonly used profile for printers. CMYK will better represent the print outcome for DTG and print-on-demand products. This color profile will ensure your detailed prints will be represented accurately and you will be more satisfied with the outcome, and more importantly, so will your customers!

Main Differences

Use PNG Files for Apparel Prints

GearLaunch accepts JPEG and PNG files for all prints. But note that PNG files will print better for DTG (direct to garment).

We recommend designing in CMYK and saving your designs in an sRGB profile. This will ensure that your design is created in the colors that are best for print.

We have created a tutorial online to learn how to do this properly. However, the process may vary greatly depending on the software you use. If you work with a designer, they should know how to do this themselves.


An important piece of the printing world is image resolution, expressed as DPI (Dots Per Inch).  Your computer and phone screens will display images in a 72 DPI. Printers need much more than that in order to show and provide a great print quality.

When in doubt, always create designs at 300 DPI. Saving images from the internet and resizing the image DPI will affect the quality but not necessarily in a good way. You must create the design with a high DPI in order to create high-quality designs.

Anti-Aliasing and Why You Should Not Do It

Anti-Aliasing, is a technique to make edges of graphics, fonts, or objects appear more smooth. It is accomplished by adding additional pixels between the edges of the graphic and the background.

As seen with this graphic above, anti-aliasing adds pixels to the edges and causes a smoother finish, although appears more blurry when close up.  We do not recommend using this technique as it may cause printing errors to the design. Our printers will reject artwork with transparencies. Please turn off anti-aliasing for the best possible design.

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