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What Is CMYK Color?

CMYK refers to the printing inks used in four-color process printing. Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black are the colors used to produce full-color photographs and designs. (An approximate representation of these colors is below.) These colors can be combined and printed to emulate a wide number of other colors. If you look carefully at a printed color photograph in any magazine or book, you'll see that it's made up of rows of tiny dots called a halftone screen. The dots work ogether, at different angles, to fool your eye into seeing a full spectrum of colors.

For a graphics file to be printed in CMYK, it must be converted or created in that color mode. When film is produced, a different sheet of film is created for each color. For the computer to tell the machine that produces the film, an imagesetter, what to put on each sheet of film, the computer image must be in CMYK format. Colors in a page layout program must also be specified in percentages of the four colored inks.

So, why do we refer to these four ink colors as CMYK and not CMYB? Well, quite simply, it's so that no one will be confused into thinking that the last color is Blue rather than Black.

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