10 creative uses of CMYK

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 (opens in new tab) 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!

  • Read all our colour-related posts here (opens in new tab)

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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab)? 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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) 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.

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The Creative Bloq team is made up of a group of design fans, and has changed and evolved since Creative Bloq began back in 2012. The current website team consists of six full-time members of staff: Editor Kerrie Hughes, Deputy Editor Rosie Hilder, Deals Editor Beren Neale, Senior News Editor Daniel Piper, Digital Arts and Design Editor Ian Dean, and Staff Writer Amelia Bamsey, as well as a roster of freelancers from around the world. The 3D World and ImagineFX magazine teams also pitch in, ensuring that content from 3D World and ImagineFX is represented on Creative Bloq.