RGB is short for red, green, and blue, and when these three colors are combined to their full extent, the result is white. This makes RGB an “additive” color model. On each color scale, there are 256 shades of that color, and by mixing three colors together, about 16.7 million colors are generated. This is significantly more color variations than CMYK, which produces around 16,000 color combinations.
RGB is the color used in all digital screen displays. Depending on the device a person is using, the RGB coloring can vary from screen to screen based on the device’s capability of reading and displaying color. Variations of technology can include LCD, LED, CRT, OLED, quantum dots, or mobile screen, to name a few.
Due to the great variation of coloration on devices, graphic designers and marketing teams can have difficulty creating consistency across their campaigns when working with precise digital colors for special effects or print design. RGB color is best used on graphic design computers, translating the coloring up to 100% depending on the laptop.
When looking at RGB coloration, the RGB light spectrum adds three light beams together (R, G, & B) together wavelength for wavelength, to create the final color. The photoreceptors in the human eye perceive this color due to the cone cells stimulated simultaneously.
The advantage of RGB is that it is compatible with almost every well-known application like Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Suite. It is more flexible than CMYK and can sometimes lead to more vibrant colors. The disadvantages are that RGB does not translate well to CMYK.
RGB relies somewhat on the light, which printing does not provide as a computer monitor does. This makes the translation of the image or illustration darker and duller when it is printed. Therefore printing materials that translate from RGB to CMYK can lead to frustration when a brochure or logo is printed out only to be the wrong color.