Wednesday, August 13, 2008

C M Y Knot???

Last week I had one of the most frustrating conversations up to this point in my working adult life. My adorable sales rep Judy came to me and and asked me which colors we could use if a customer only wanted to pay for one color. I said thats easy, we print in CMYK...Cyan, Magenta or Yellow along with the obvious, Black.
She looked and me kinda blankly and said innocently, "What color is Magenta?" I explained it as basically a florescent hot pink. Looking very puzzled as to why we would use a hot pink she asked, "well, what's Cyan?" I also explained it as yet another florescent bright blue. She looked even more puzzled. She asked me, "well why is it just those colors?"
The frustration begins. I had to try to explain to someone that knows nothing of the four color printing process why it is those four colors and not any other color (I am not certain how long she's been working in the paper, but I figured all reps would have to know this just for their customer's sake). Now I still don't understand myself why those colors, I just know that when they are combined they can make up pretty much any color in the alphabet.
Poor lil Judy tried so hard to understand, but without actually seeing the colors, she just wasn't grasping what I was saying. Which is understandable because I was definitely not giving the best explanation. I learned out of a text book
which explained every step in maximum detail. So much so that I'm pretty sure I blanked out while ready and missed most of what the book was trying to tell me...(don't judge, I don't like to read and it was really really boring). We eventually called it quits.
Just yesterday, Judy came back to me, asking me what Cyan and Magenta are. To keep it simple I told her I was gonna make some swatches for her and print them out so that she and her customer would know exactly what they were looking at. I gave her a quick piece of paper w/ the CMYK colors on it and labeled them appropriately, and she said "Oh, thats what they look like." And off she went.
Still not satisfied with the example I gave her, I piddled around and whipped up one that is very clear. I even thought to include the RGB colors, just so she would know what that mean
t.Lemme tell ya, this seemed to help her out so much. I explained that when in any major printing process there are Four plates. One is Cyan, another Magenta, another Yellow and another Black. And that those four plates with those four colors are layered on top of each other. And once laid on each other, depending on the different percentages of each color, they combine to create any other color.
Like: 50% Magenta + 50% Yellow = Red
and 50% Cyan + 50% Yellow = Green
and so on.
After the visual explanation, she seemed to get it. She even said, "Oh! I had no idea that's what CMYK meant! We both still have questions. A major one being, who thought of Cyan and Magenta? (she is fascinated by these two colors). We determined that is was some man some time ago...but then we figured it was probably a woman...and we OFFICIALLY determined that is was a woman, a wife who's husband took all the credit for figuring out that these four colors are (what we now call them) the "MAGIC FOUR"
...on an ironic side note...I had to convert the example into RGB so that it could be properly viewed on the web. Because unlike Print, the Web works in RGB....wicked!

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