Am I right in thinking that colours that are pure cyan, magenta or yellow would come out brighter in print than colours such as green or purple for example? Due to the fact that they haven't been mixed with anything else?

I once used a splash of pure magenta in a CMYK job and it came out looking really vibrant, I hadn't realised it was possible to get such a colour in print without using Pantones.

Would the same be true of cyan and yellow?

  • In your last line, don't you mean "magenta and yellow"?
    – Wolff
    Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 16:45
  • If you mean outside of rgb gamut. Then yes they may be. Maybe better call this vivid.
    – joojaa
    Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 17:42
  • You should also check with your printer, there are some adjusted print methods that use more vibrant color bases than traditional CMYK that might have caused that effect.
    – Alith7
    Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 17:57
  • @Wolff well spotted! it was actually the second-to-last paragraph that should have been magenta :)
    – user23891
    Commented Nov 26, 2020 at 15:26

1 Answer 1


It's hard to say because the term "brighter" can mean different things.

Often we use the term "brightness" as "being closer to white". So a light color like for example CMYK(10,7,20,2) can be said to "brighter" than 100% cyan even though it doesn't appear as "vibrant".

A better term might be "cleaner". When you print 100% of one of the process colors (or a Pantone ink for that matter) the color is applied as a solid layer of color with no halftone dots. When you tint the ink lighter or mix it with other colors you can't avoid a halftone pattern. The halftone pattern simulates a mix of colors, but the downside is a slightly flickering surface.

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