Why we should design and print in pure CMYK

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We all know that the physical print process happens in CMYK. For those that don’t know, now you do. CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, yellow and key – or black as it’s more commonly known.

While we design printed articles in CMYK and print in CMYK why is it that we do not design purely using these four colours? A whole brand or publication that uses only CMYK would stand out so much in a competitive industry.


How many times have you sent something to print and been disappointed with it when you get it back? Usually it’s the colours that you’re unhappy with. While we design in CMYK our screens show everything in bright RGB – red, green and blue. This is to do with the way light interacts with our eyes to display the colour. It’s all very scientific design.

If you feel like your colours are dull and lacklustre chances are you have too much black mixed into your palette. By using pure CMYK only the print inconsistency can be eradicated. The colours will reproduce exactly the same on all machinery. The only factor that will effect the brightness of the colours is the paper stock. Some paper will absorb more ink than others, but the colours will be pure.


The internet has made it incredibly easy for designers to rip each other off. So many times I’ve seen designs replicated from those starting out and it really does p*** designers off. Not only are designs being replicated, but so too are colour palettes.

I’m guilty myself of using certain colours frequently. Everyone has their favourites. But if you designed purely in CMYK you could be creating something even more unique and original than anyone else. Now that I’ve said this it’s probably going to become an overused trend. It was a good thought of originality while it lasted.


We’ve established that designing in pure CMYK will become the next biggest trend, but at least it would be a welcome trend. Hand-lettering, travel, monograms, fauxaics and line art are some of the biggest trends right now. If you did these current trends in CMYK then you could be tapping into a whole new area of design. Never will you be stuck for a colour palette again. All your designs will be consistent and it’ll be your trademark more than a trend.


Finding your niche and your signature style is one of the hardest parts of being a designer. Make this simple four colour palette your trademark. It’ll be so unique to you and your business. It might not be for everyone but it will set you apart from everyone else. It’s a strong palette to build your voice around. Their are endless possibilities with it to. By simply taking magenta down from 100% to 70% you’ve got a whole new palette that includes no new colours and stays true to your trademark.

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