The differences between the RGB and CMYK colour spaces can also cause problems. One solution is to use only printable colours, a technique Sauerkids have perfected. “Being graphic designers, we’re very much aware of the differences between subtractive and additive colour systems,” says Mark. “We always build our illustrations in CMYK, so that the RGB translation always looks as bright as the original. With RGB having a much broader spectrum, the other way around always falls short.”
Special spot colours, such as metallics and fluorescents, are another consideration for a design that will be seen in print and on screen. But while a fluorescent colour can be successfully used in a screen-based work, it may cost too much to print. Despite advances in print technology, going beyond the standard four-colour process is still pricey.
“We only use CMYK, never use silver or gold or fluorescent colours. We tend to think of these as not ‘real’ colours, more as effects that are not reproducible,” says Mark. “As a matter of fact, we are so at ease with CMYK that even our paintings are produced in CMYK. We never buy paints other than cyan, magenta, yellow, black and white.”
Ultimately, while there are many ways to choose palettes and work with colour, it is worth remembering that personal preference always rules, even to the point that you tend to use the same colour scheme again and again.
Sauerkids, for example, always gravitate towards pink, no matter what the brief. “Don’t know why, but it just happens. We have to force ourselves not to use it. Pink just seems to capture the right atmosphere all the time.”
Design house La Boca (laboca.co.uk) is known for its bold and striking work for the film, music and fashion industries – often harking back to the 80s with bright clashing colours.
Asked to do a two-colour sleeve for the 12-inch single Fly Vision by Arcadion, La Boca persuaded the record label to make one of those colours a day-glo green.
“We wanted to create an uncomfortable experience for the viewer, so we took a bright red and the dayglo green and tried to use the resulting clash to our advantage,” says La Boca co-founder Scot Bendall.
La Boca also used its powers of persuasion when doing a cover design for the French music magazine Trax. The magazine’s name is usually printed in one solid colour over the cover image, but Trax allowed La Boca to incorporate a multicoloured logo into its depiction of Simian Mobile Disco.
Colour was once more the key ingredient in transforming a black-and-white photo of Etienne Jaumet for the sleeve of his Entropy EP. “We decided to inflict a bit of La Boca colour on the picture, but it was important to us that the colour didn’t compromise the image and take away from the integrity of the original,” says Scot.
La Boca contemplated several colour schemes for its Black Swan set of posters (left) before settling on red, white and black – the standout choice in hindsight, says Scot. “Looking back it seems crazy that we even considered anything different. Those posters were so obviously meant to be in those colours.”