About color and color models


Before you begin

Applying color to frames and objects is a common publishing task, whether you are publishing in print or exporting to the web. FrameMaker provides color libraries to choose from colors defined by a color vendor. You define and modify colors by adjusting the color model you’re using or by choosing a predefined ink from a color library based on the color model.

Before applying color to your documents, prepare in these ways:

Identify the output format of your document

The final output of your color document can greatly affect color decisions:

For online output, use the RGB or HLS color models. Your guide to correct color is how your documents look on your monitor.

For desktop printing, use the CMYK model to define your colors and test them on the printer you’ll be using.

For commercial printing, use colors from a library supported by your commercial printer. Don’t rely on the onscreen versions of library colors; use a swatch book.

Learn the limits of the medium

Become familiar with the range of colors available on your monitor or printer. For example, a system set to display 256 colors cannot display tints below 16% accurately in FrameMaker.

By default, FrameMaker publishes CMYK values when printing or saving as Adobe PDF. If you opt to use RGB values while saving as a PDF, FrameMaker converts color values to RGB and creates separations in equivalent RGB values. EPS graphics, however, are separated according to the color values specified within the EPS graphic itself.

FrameMaker retains the color values specified within Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) graphic objects, including CMYK colors, RGB colors, grayscale, spot colors, device-independent colors (such as CIE L*a*b color). The graphical information within an EPS file is passed directly into the output Post­Script stream, bypassing any Windows GDI processing. EPS graphic objects can be created from text, vector graphics, or images of any type supported by Adobe PostScript. This capability allows EPS graphics to be saved or exported from many Adobe applications, as well as other third-party application programs.

Color models

When you use a color model to define colors, you manually adjust its components, such as the amount of pure red or the amount of saturation.

You can choose from three color models: CMYK, RGB, and HLS.


Use the CMYK model to create color separations for four-color process printing. Colors are created by combining cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK) inks. In color separation, each color component is printed on a separate plate, in a different concentration, depending on the desired color.


Use the RGB model to create colors that are viewed on a monitor (for example, for online documentation). Colors are created by combining red, green, and blue (RGB) light.


Use the HLS model if you are familiar with color wheels. This model is most like the one artists use to mix colors and is often used in software color pickers. Colors are created by adjusting hue, lightness, and saturation (HLS). Hue controls the amount of red, green, yellow, blue, and so on. Lightness controls the lightness or darkness of a color. Saturation controls the amount of gray in the color.

September 30, 2016

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