10 creative uses of CMYK

These 10 designers just can't get enough of the Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black colour palette! See what they used them to create...

All designers should be familiar with the principles and uses of CMYK - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (if not, you need to read this article on colour theory right now).

In this article we bring together 10 exciting ways in which the CMYK colour have been used in their pure state across a range of design related media and formats. Enjoy!

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01. CMYK Vans

Known for their liberating and adventurous exploration of design within their branding, in 2008, Vans released a vivid collection of shoes using the CMYK spectrum of colours.

02. CMYK colour bars

This project from design student Hannah Rodee addresses the idea of waste within the design industry, with a focus on liberal British newspaper The Independent. "The Independent wastes roughly 2,000 sides of ink daily by printing colour bars, despite there being new technology available, which can eliminate the need for them," she argues. Rodee set herself the mission of visualising this amount; several days of screen printing later, the result was this mound of CMYK papers.

03. CMYK camera

This camera by Diana F is a real homage to CMYK. Not only does the product itself sport the CMYK colours, it also provides filters that enable you to take photographs with a vintage CMYK feel.

04. CMYK wedding

Is this the ultimate design geek wedding? Chicago designer Lauren Okura produced this fun and vibrant branding inspired by CMYK for her own wedding last May, which extended throughout the occasion, from the design of the invitations to the decorations on the day.

05. Cody Petts

Cody Petts took the concept of CMYK and worked with it to produce an engaging packaging solution for Graphic House, a custom signage shop in Wausau, Wisconsin. The fold out paper container works with the colours in a subtle yet effective way.

06. Epson

Columbus designer Ali Prater wanted to focus on a clean and sophisticated design solution to designing the packaging for the Epson’s ink cartridge edition, working with CMYK. Her use of paper manipulation with the cut outs creating the design and typography revealed with the inner block colour packaging.

07. Marie Fabre

French artist and photographer Marie Fabre explores colour theory through the use of photographical visuals and categorises colour in relation to food in an innovative and visually stimulating way.

08. Tattoo by Marcin Aleksander Surowiec

A brilliant and rising Polish tattoo artist, Marcin Aleksander Suroweic specializes in technicolor design elements within tattoo art. He celebrates colour through this art form in a number of innovative ways that are truly inspiring.

09. Colour by overprinting

Written in 1955, Colour by Overprinting by Donald E.Cooke demonstrated the overprinting permutations of 11 separate colours, in three and four colour groups, across 165 pages. A colour classic.

10. Game developers conference

The Game Developers Conference had an innovative idea and creative way to get all the participants involved in 2011. Working with simple elements such as pixels and simple colours like CMYK.

Words: Meryem Meg

Meryem Meg is a Leeds-based graphic designer and illustrator whose inspiration lies in melodic word play and typographic experimentation. Follow her on Twitter at @meryemmeg.

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