ID card printing & colour profiles

There are two main colour profiles called CMYK & RGB. ID card printers produce colours using CMYK & the colours you see on your screen are produced using RGB.

This means the colours printed on your cards will look different to the colours you see on your screen, either in any designs you create or in the proofs we send to you.


It’s not all bad news, the differences are usually quite small & you usually won't notice them.

Paint Pots and Color Wheel


Refers to the primary colours of light: Red, Green & Blue.


Refers to the primary colours of pigment: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow & Black (or Key).

About RGB Colour Profiles

All the text, images & colours you see on your screen are created using the RGB colour profile, which produces colours using an ‘additive’ method using light.

This means colours are produced by combining a mix of red, green & blue together with the light from your screen. For example, red & green combined creates a shade of yellow – the resulting shade of yellow depending on how much green is added versus red.

These colours are essentially ‘coloured light’. When you switch on your PC, laptop or smartphone, each LED within the screen lights up & combines a different quantity of red, green & blue together which, with the white light emitted from the screen, creates all the colours you can see.


Together, each of these illuminated LEDs create all the changing images & texts visible on your screen.


When more colours are added to an RGB mix, the overall colour becomes brighter. If you combine all the colours of the RGB profile together, the result will be pure white.


Due to this additive method, RGB colour profiles can create an enormous range of colours.

TIP: Some RGB colours can't be reproduced in CMYK colour printing. This means some printed colours may look different to how they appear on your screen. This happens whether printing on to paper, card or plastic cards.

About CMYK Colour Profiles

Printed colours are produced using CMYK, which is a combination of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (Black) pigments, i.e. paints, inks or coloured resins in the case of our ID cards.


CMYK colours are produced using a ‘subtractive’ method & when you combine lots of CMYK colours together, the overall colour becomes darker.


Colours printed on to our ID cards & other materials don’t have the benefit of emitted light like the RGB colours you see on-screen. Instead these colours are illuminated by the natural light around us which hits them & is partly absorbed & reflected.

The colour combinations of the CMYK colour profile are essentially the opposite of the RGB colour profile. For example, if you combine magenta & yellow, you’ll get bright red. If you combine cyan & yellow, you’ll get green.


Because of these differences, it’s important to note that some RGB colours cannot be reproduced in CMYK.

This means your logos, photos & other graphics may look different to what you see on your screen when printed on any material. The difference is usually only very subtle though, so don’t worry too much.

Print results also vary depending on the material you’re printing on to. The same colours printed on to matt & glossy paper will appear different. Our ID cards are made from glossy PVC, so they will print differently to any business cards or flyers you might have printed.

Setting a colour profile for your ID cards

If you need us to print some ID cards for you & you’re not sure what colour profile your logos, graphics or artwork is saved in, don’t worry! We’ll convert it for you during the print process.


The important thing is to make sure any artwork you send to us for print is at least 300dpi for the best print quality. We can fix any colour profile issues for you.