Understanding Photoshop’s Color Modes and How to Use Them

The color modes and color models of digital imaging seem to be a mystery to many first learning to use Photoshop.

Many are so intimidated by the various color modes that they simply ignore the issue because they do not understand the impact color modes can have on the final printed image.

Color modes determine the color model that should be used to display and print digital pictures. Anyone serious about professional quality digital imaging should learn about the color modes and models and how to apply them in Photoshop.

Certain color modes are best for particular applications and so on. Most good Photoshop tutorials and training aids will teach user how and when to use which color modes for the best results depending on the particular project.

Before you even begin working with the color modes in Photoshop it is a good idea to have a basic understanding of what the color modes are and why there are different models.

Digital images are displayed using several different color modes. The following are the main basic color modes you will encounter when working with digital images.

RGB

RGB stands re Red Green and Blue. In the RGB color mode colors are created by mixing these three primary colors. You are basically working in three color channels in RBG mode and you can adjust the intensity of each channel to obtain various degrees of colors. White is made by combining all of the three colors.

CMYK

CMYK is for cyan, magenta, yellow and black. While RGB creates colors by mixing colors CMYK essentially creates color by subtracting varying degrees of each color. For example, if white is needed all colors would be reduced to zero.

Learning about the color modes will result in big improvements in your digital imaging work. Printers use CMYK color while monitors use RGB. This is why there is sometimes a difference in what you see on your PC monitor and what you see on paper.

Fortunately there is now software that you can install which will calibrate your monitor colors with your printer so what you see on your monitor is what you get when you print.

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