7 Image Colour Format Modes for Stunning Marketing [Updated 2024]

image colour format modes

Introduction to Image Colour Format Modes

When it comes to image formatting, there are several different modes to choose from, each with its own purpose and benefits. Understanding the differences between these modes can help ensure that your images are optimised for their intended use, whether that's for digital display, print or other purposes.


One of the most common image modes is CMYK. This mode is used primarily for conventional printing, as it allows images to be converted into the four process colours: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. This mode can be particularly useful for ensuring that your printed materials look as vibrant and accurate as possible, although it is important to note that some colour intensity may be lost due to the limitations of the CMYK process.

To minimise any colour discrepancies, it's important to use good colour management practices, such as selecting the right printer and paper combination and calibrating your display monitor.

2. RGB

Another common image mode is RGB, which is the mode in which most digital images start their lives. RGB uses three colour channels – red, green and blue – that closely match the colour receptors of the human eye. This is also the way that computer screens and image scanners translate colour, making it a great choice for images that will be displayed on digital devices.

3. Greyscale

If you want to create a black and white image, or one that has a limited range of colours, then greyscale is the mode to choose. In this mode, all of the colour information in an image is converted into one channel, which can then be adjusted to maximise contrast and brightness. Greyscale images are often used in life photography and can also be converted back to CMYK to produce a “four colour black and white” image for added depth and clarity.

man making the gift of love to his sweetheart on valentines day offering a red heart in his outstretched hand, greyscale image with selective red colour

4. Duotones, Tritones and Quadtones

For images that need to be coloured to match a particular brand or style, duotones, tritones and quadtones are useful image modes. In these modes, one or more “special colours” are combined with black to create a unique colour effect. For example, a duotone might use one special colour and black, while a tritone might use two special colours plus black. These modes are particularly useful for branding and marketing materials, as they can help create a consistent and recognisable look and feel.

5. Bitmap

Finally, for images that consist solely of solid line work, such as line illustrations and logos, bitmap is the mode to choose. This mode uses a fixed number of pixels per inch, ensuring that the image appears smooth and crisp even when enlarged or reduced in size. Bitmap is also commonly used for cutter guides, as it allows for precise cutting and printing of intricate designs.

Conclusion to Image Colour Format Modes

In conclusion, understanding the different image modes available and when to use them is an important part of creating high-quality, effective images for your digital marketing campaigns. Whether you're creating print materials, digital graphics, or other types of visual content, choosing the right image mode can help ensure that your images look their best and achieve the desired results.


What is CMYK mode?

CMYK mode is a colour model used for print media. It stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black, which are the four process colours used in conventional printing. Images in CMYK mode have lower colour intensity compared to RGB mode but are necessary for accurate and consistent printing.

What is RGB mode?

RGB mode is a colour model used for digital media. It stands for Red, Green, and Blue, which are the three primary colours used by computer screens and image scanners to display and capture colour. Images in RGB mode have higher colour intensity but may not be suitable for print media.

What is greyscale mode?

Greyscale mode is a colour mode in which an image is converted to shades of grey. This mode is often used for black and white photography or to create monotone images. It can also be used in combination with other colour modes for depth and clarity.

What are duotones, tritones and quad tones?

Duotones, tritones and quad tones are colour modes used for creating custom colours in images. Duotones use one special colour and black, while tritones use two special colours and black, and quad tones use three special colours and black. These modes are often used in branding and marketing to create unique and consistent colour schemes.

What is bitmap mode?

Bitmap mode is a colour mode that uses only black and white pixels, and is often used for line illustrations and logos. It is not suitable for images with complex colour information, but can be useful for creating cutter guides and other technical artwork.

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