Working With Color

In the world of traditional printing, getting the right color in the right place on the page is something of an art form, done by overlapping layers of ink in just the right quantities using carefully positioned aluminum plates. In a digital world of backlit screens, color is a more technical process, using the spectrum of visible light to produce the desired color output. When these two worlds collide for digital printing, colors must undergo a transition from how they are displayed on screen to what gets printed on the page.

To help you design your MagCloud PDF so that this transition is as accurate as possible, first let’s get back to basics.

A lot of acronyms get thrown around when you start talking about color, the most common being RGB and CMYK.

RGB stands for Red-Green-Blue, and is an additive color model based on combining red, green and blue light, as shown in the color chart on the left below. RGB is the color model used by most digital devices, including your computer screen and the images produced by your digital camera.


CMYK stands for Cyan-Magenta-Yellow-Key (ie, black), and is a subtractive color model based on layering cyan, magenta, yellow and black ink to selectively subtract the amount of light reflected off the page, as shown in the color chart above right. CMYK is also commonly referred to as 4-color process, and is the color model used for color printing both on traditional presses and on the HP Indigo digital presses used to print MagCloud publications.

From An RGB Monitor To A CMYK Print Copy

When your MagCloud PDF is sent to an HP Indigo digital press for printing, the press will convert any non-CMYK content to CMYK prior to printing. The press does this conversion automatically based on the color profiles that have been embedded in your file. If there are no color profiles embedded in your file, this conversion will be based on the default color settings of the press, which could result in a color output that is different from what you see on screen.

Therefore, to ensure you get the best output possible, we encourage you to follow these color guidelines when creating and inserting content in your MagCloud PDF:

• Images you place into your document, whether from a digital camera or stock photography website, should be left in their original color space (sRGB, Adobe RGB, etc) with the corresponding color profiles embedded in the final PDF.*

• Text and other vector components (ie, backgrounds, blocks of color, etc) that you create in the document should be CMYK, with black text set to 100% K (CMYK = 0, 0, 0, 100).

*For specific information about embedding color profiles in your design program of choice, be sure to check out our Getting Started page.

Have any other color tips to share from your MagCloud publishing experience? Let us know in the comments below!

How-to-Guides Make Publishing on MagCloud a Snap!

We’ve just released a series of step-by-step guides to help our publishers create PDFs that are MagCloud publish-ready.

There are guides for a wide variety of design, desktop publishing and word processing applications including Adobe InDesign, QuarkXpress, Apple Pages, Microsoft Publisher and Microsoft Word.

The How-to-Guides walk you through document settings, trim and bleed tips, image sizing, color spacing, designing for perfect binding, PDF exporting and more.

All guides are available for free digital download or you can order a print copy at MagCloud of course :).

If you are looking for inspiration check out some of our existing design templates for brochures, cookbooks and calendars.

Happy Publishing!