When should I convert images to CMYK?

This is a question we’re asked regularly and it causes some confusion. Images are generally captured using the RGB colour mode but, for printing, they need to be defined as CMYK mode. Think of it as the difference between screen viewing and printing.

Image of screen and printer icons

The initials RGB represent the primary colours of the screen mode – Red, Green and Blue, CMYK represents the primary colours of printing – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (Black being represented as K or the Key colour).

In the early days of desktop publishing, images were converted to CMYK using Photoshop before they were placed into a design application like Illustrator, QuarkXPress or InDesign. This process can be time consuming and creates a variety of inconvenient side-effects. The CMYK colour mode is adapted for specific printing processes and machinery and has a reduced colour range compared to RGB so CMYK images so are not suitable for reuse in many other media. A further benefit from leaving images as RGB is that much of Photoshop only works in RGB mode so, if you convert an image you’ll find a substantial amount of Photoshop’s editing capabilities are disabled.

The good news is, this process is no longer necessary, as long as you are exporting your  document to a PDF using a preset which includes a colour conversion.

Screenshot of Photoshop Convert to CMYK mode

 

Let’s explain that further. The typical way to change colour modes in Photoshop is to manually select Image>Mode>CMYK Color, however,  as all Adobe applications use the same colour engine, you can perform an RGB to CYMK conversion at any point in your workflow using any Adobe application. If you are sending print-ready PDF’s to your print provider, you can automate the conversion by placing RGB images into InDesign or Illustrator and creating a PDF using choosing a preset such as PDF/X-1a2001 or Press Quality. These presets contain a built-in conversion which will convert any images to CMYK automatically. The original pictures will remain untouched, leaving you free to reuse them for output in other media without making duplicates.

Screenshot of InDesign Export to PDF

SCreenshot of second step of InDesign export to PDF process

This does not automate creative processes such as colour correction, retouching or sharpening and these should be carried out in Photoshop in conjunction the various soft proofing tools such as Proof Colours and Gamut Warning.

In cases where you intend to send open InDesign files and links to your print provider this approach is not suitable (unless you’ve agreed that your print provider will perform the conversion). For most people, however,  converting on export to PDF offers a much quicker and more efficient way to ensure images are correctly adjusted for print.

To learn more about working with colour with Creative Cloud, contact us.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinby feather

The Movable Book of Letterforms

Designer, Kevin Steele has created this spectacular introduction to letterforms. It’s a hand-crafted pop-up book, in an edition of three only, which acts as both an educational tool and a tribute to the craft of paper architecture. I wish there was a mass-production version. See more at Kevin’s web site.

This pop-up book serves as a basic introduction to letterforms, their origins, and unique characteristics. Type plays a fundamental role in the communication process as much through the shapes and styling of the letterforms as the actual words that they join to form. This book also attempts to demonstrate how movable books can be used to educate and create visual impact for audiences of all ages. Interior: digital print on Mohawk Superfine 80lb cover Cover: Laval velour bookcloth debossed with polymer plate All movable parts cut and assembled by hand. 2009 22 pages, 8.25″ x 8.25″ x 2.25″ Edition of 3

Source: The Movable Book of Letterforms

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinby feather

Got Adobe Creative Cloud? Got questions?

Everyone finds things out online but have you ever measured how long you spend looking for answers to Adobe or design and print related questions? and did you get exactly the answers you needed? The web is a black hole for time and attention and it can be difficult to find the answer you’re looking for. That’s why it still pays to use an expert. Creativelab has been Adobe certified since 2006 and  has decades of experience in the design, print and publishing industry. We can troubleshoot problems, provide answers to your specific questions, we can also train you in getting the best from your applications and, best of all, we’re there if you have follow-up questions or need more advice.

We like to think of ourselves as your extra pair of hands, your creative collaborator and your technical helpdesk.

If you need help with Adobe Creative Cloud, training, design or publishing, please do get in touch. We’ll be happy to help.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinby feather