Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
Most of the time when you're working in Photoshop, you're working in one of two modes, RGB and CMYK. These are color modes, basically, different models of color. And let me explain a little bit about what that means. First and primarily, we have RGB that stands for red, green, and blue. And these are the color components of light and this is not a Photoshop thing, this is a, a real world sciencey thing. When the sun beams down, it's lights down to the earth, it is in red, green, and blue components, and Photoshop actually prefers RGB.
However, when we go to print, the color components of ink are the exact opposite of the color components of light. The opposite of red is cyan. The opposite of green is magenta. The opposite of blue is yellow. And so we use additive color, RGB, in light, and what we call subtractive color or CMYK, when we go to print something. And because we can't get pure black with cyan, magenta, and yellow, if we mix them all together we get kind of a, a muddy dark brown color. We use black symbolized by the K here.
Now, one of the things that's important to know about these two different color models is that they're kind of opposites. So with light for example, with RGB, as we add more red, green, and blue, then things get brighter and brighter. And if we have full red, green, and blue, we get pure white. If we have an absence of light, think of like a spotlight or a light bulb or something like that. If we turn off all of these lights, the red light, green light, and blue light, then we have black. Ink or subtractive color, works the exact opposite.
So if we add all of these colors, if we have 100% red, or cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, then we'll get black. And if we have zero cyan, magenta, yellow and black, then we have pure white. An absense of any color. So far this has all been just kind of theoretical and it's hard to picuture, so let me show you how this works in the real world. I have this face image here. And as you could see, the top in this title bar where we have the name of the document, it's zoom resolution. The selected layer and we have it's color mode here, this is an RGB document.
And when we have an RGB document, the colors can get very vibrant. However, when we go to reproduce those in print, as you might have noticed, as you've tried to print images like this, you don't get the same color reproduction. Just CMYK just can't do it. So if I go up to the Image menu at the top of the screen, and go to the Mode menu, I can see that RGB color is checked. If I change this to CMYK color, it will convert this to CMYK. First, it's going to give me this little dialog box, box.
I'm going to say OK here. And it does, and look at the difference in colors. I'm just going to hit Command+Z on the Mac or Ctrl+Z on the PC to toggle back and forth between these two options. So before,uh, this is the before, and then after, so RGB and CMYK. And you could see the difference in these really vibrant colors, especially, the cool tones. We lose a lot of the saturation and vibrance when we switch over to CMYK, and again, that's just a limitation of the ink, it's nothing you can do in Photoshop to change that.
It's just the nature of the beast when you're going over to CMYK. So be aware when you are in CMYK there are some Photoshop features that will not be available to you, because Photoshop thinks in RGB, it works in RGB as its kind of native environment. Be aware also, that if you are working with a CMYK document, that you can go up to the Image menu and through the mode submenu here change the color mode.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
117 Video lessons · 43027 Viewers
119 Video lessons · 54348 Viewers
65 Video lessons · 14576 Viewers
113 Video lessons · 82927 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.
Your file was successfully uploaded.