What does RGB Stand for?

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RGB is an acronym for red, green, and blue. You can combine these three colors to reproduce a broad range of shades. When you mix all three colors evenly, they create white. This property of color mixing makes RGB an “additive” color model and are used for digital design.

How Many Colors Can RGB Make?

Each red, green, and blue color scale has 256 shades. By mixing all three, you can generate about 16.7 million colors. In comparison, CMYK (a subtractive color model used in printing) only produces around 16,000 color combinations. 

RGB Can Look Different From Screen-to-Screen

All digital screen displays use the RGB color model. But the RGB coloring can look different from screen-to-screen depending on the device’s capability for reading and displaying color. Variations of technology can include LCD, LED, CRT, OLED, quantum dots, or mobile screen, to name a few. 

The Challenge of Keeping Colors Consistent for Everyone

The significant difference in screen display capabilities can be a challenge for graphic designers and marketers. When working with precise colors for special effects or print design, keeping the brand style consistent is vital. To ensure color consistency, designers use the RGB color model on graphic design computers. These computers are very good at translating precise colors and can do so with up to 100% accuracy (depending on the laptop). 

How RGB Creates Color

If you look at the RGB coloration process, you will see that it adds three light beams together: red, green, and blue. It adds these three colors together in various amounts, wavelength for wavelength, to create the final color. The different wavelengths will stimulate your eye’s photoreceptors so you can see the desired color. 

More Flexible Than CMYK

Thanks to RGB’s ability to convey color on digital screens, it is compatible with almost every well-known application like Microsoft Office and the Adobe Creative Suite. Plus, it is more flexible than CMYK and can sometimes generate more vibrant colors. On the other hand, the disadvantage to RGB is that it does not translate well to CMYK. 


RGB and CMYK are essentially opposites because they function in different contexts. RGB works primarily in digital formats. It relies on the light of a computer screen to create color. For this reason, when you add all the colors in RGB, you’ll get white. In contrast, combining all the colors in CYMK will create black.

Learn about RGB’s Counterpart, CMYK!

Digital Color vs. Printed Color

This difference is because CMYK works primarily in printed formats. When an image prints in CMYK, it will appear darker and duller than it did on your monitor. Additionally, when you print an RGB design, the system needs to translate it to CMYK, which can cause your colors to look very different from what you originally intended.

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