Ben Owen-Browne ~ Story portraits and wedding photographer in Vienna and beyond Ben Owen-Browne ~ Story portraits and wedding photographer in Vienna and beyond

cmyk explainer

CMYK

Every kid learns about primary colours in school. How you can make all the colours in the rainbow from only red, green and blue. It's how pictures on a TV or a phone are made, and it's the reason you sometimes see "RGB" written on the back of monitors.

Not so many people know about the other primary colour system which people who work in printing use. It's made up of four colours rather than three, and it's called "CMYK".

Instead of starting with an empty TV screen which is completely black, printers have to start with an empty piece of paper which is pure white. Instead of adding colour to make things brighter, each extra bit of colour they add makes the picture progressively darker.


It's all a bit complicated, but all you need to know is that after I'd done galleries for red, green and blue, I decided to do the same for CMYK. But instead of making separate galleries for each colour, I thought I'd do all four at the same time.

So I went back through every photo I'd ever shot to see if I could find any that contained Cyan (a kind of turquoisey blue), Magenta (a dazzling pink), Yellow (which – you guessed it! – is yellow) and Key (which means black). All four of those bizarre CMYK colours in the same frame at the same time.

It was a huge amount of unnecessary work, but – look! – it generated quite a lot of "Random CMYK Wonders" which is, like, almost a new genre.

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