Business Card Designs Embracing CMYK

By Chris Mullen, April 19, 2017

Who on earth would anyone want ideas for business card designs that encapsulate CMYK? Print companies and graphic designers dedicated to print of course! As a fellow print lover, I bring you the below design ideas I found while searching the interweb. But first, what is CMYK?

CMYK (process color, four colors) is a subtractive color model primarily used for color printing. CMYK refers to the four inks used in some color printing: cyan, magenta, yellow and key (black). Though it varies by print company, press operator, and press manufacturer, the ink or toner is typically applied in the order of the abbreviation.

Also, read “CMYK gift ideas for designers and print fanatics”

CMYK Business Cards with a Pantone setup



Cute idea for a CMYK business card



Transparent cards using CMYK



Square business cards using CMYK



CMYK business cards with color combined is a neat effect.



A print studio CMYK business card design


Surprisingly, many designers of print materials are using the RGB color mode which is usually a mistake, Most paper media will be (or must be) converted to CMYK and is essential for color accuracy (which we will write about in a future article). RGB is intended for digital media and not print media. There are machines that run on RGB (like direct-to-garment machines since they use a white base), but most commercial printers are using the CMYK color mode.

But why do we use CMK in the first place?

According to, back in the printing press days, to achieve color, each ink (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) had its own plate. The printer would lay down one color, wait for it to dry, lay down another color, wait for it to dry and so on. Printing presses still work on that same theory to this day with the exception that offset printers can use a “spot” color which can be added to achieve a specific color swatch (usually a Pantone color). As the printing age has progressed, the digital printer has come a long way, allowing to print in RGB as well. But the standard still stays the same – use CMYK on all printing needs, as the color will appear differently if printed in RGB.


If you’re scary obsessed with CMYK like me, you will dig all the amazing design ideas I found on Pinterest. We are talking business cards, posters, flyers, paintings, signage, sculptures and so much more. Simply incredible art.

CMYK Ideas