The CMYK model is based on the light-absorbing quality of ink printed on paper. As white light strikes translucent inks, certain visible wavelengths are absorbed while others are reflected back to your eyes.
In theory, pure cyan (C), magenta (M), and yellow (Y) pigments should combine to absorb all light and produce black. For this reason these colors are called subtractive colors. Because all printing inks contain some impurities, these three inks actually produce a muddy brown and must be combined with black (K) ink to produce a true black. (K is used instead of B to avoid confusion with blue.) Combining these inks to reproduce color is called four-color process printing.
The subtractive (CMY) and additive (RGB) colors are complementary colors. Each pair of subtractive colors creates an additive color, and vice versa.
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