12 Replies Latest reply on May 4, 2018 6:25 AM by Danny Whitehead.

    RGB vs. CMYK Colorspace - Which is best to work in?

    bnies813 Level 1

      I'm designing a document for a client, within in InDesign. Up until my last save, I've been ignoring the notice about InDesign being set in the RGB colorspace. On my last save, I changed it to the CMYK colorspace and all my linked images got lighter (some not in a good way). I understand the difference, but my question is - for sending this to print, what is the standard colorspace that most printers use? Should I be designing in the CMYK colorspace or RGB?

       

      Also, when I edit my photos, I switch back and forth between modes to get the best results, but what is the best mode to save them in - RGB or CMYK? I've heard conflicting answers.

       

      I realize that printers print in CMYK and while it would make sense to save photos and InDesign docs in CMYK, I've heard people say it's best to save in RGB. Please help. If you could also please explain your answer, just so I can gain the knowledge on this subject and understand why I'm doing what I'm doing.

       

      I should also mention that I'm working in CS3, but I save to a PDF from CS5.

        • 1. Re: RGB vs. CMYK Colorspace - Which is best to work in?
          [Jongware] Most Valuable Participant

          bnies813 wrote:

          [...] I realize that printers print in CMYK and while it would make sense to save photos and InDesign docs in CMYK, I've heard people say it's best to save in RGB.

           

          Some printers (hardware, not people) actually perform better when you feed them RGB instead of CMYK, because their built-in software is optimized towards perfect RGB-to-CMYK conversion for their own factory-determined combination of ink (or toner) and printing mechanism.

           

          Some printers (the people, not hardware) are smart enough to apply the color profile for their own printing presses, dot gain, paper, and printing inks, to get the best possible conversion from RGB to CMYK.

           

          In both cases you are thwarting their efforts for a best possible output. Other printers (of both kinds) simply don't bother.

           

          There is no simple answer because there are many printers around, of both human and mechanized kinds (plus maybe the odd cyborg printer, nowadays).

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          • 2. Re: RGB vs. CMYK Colorspace - Which is best to work in?
            MW Design Level 5

            If you are asking about professional print services that are using offset printing, ask them if they have profiles for your use. I work with a couple that desire their profiles (which are CMYK, btw) from one end of the process to their systems. Other print services simply want me to use my region's SWOP v2 profile.

             

            A few others, mainly some local digital printers I deal with, could care less what is thrown at their equipment and will handle the conversion(s) in their rips. Sometimes this is fine (cheap banners and such), else I do all work in CMYK anyway. Once thorwn into a PDFX-1a PDF, it is then converted to CMYK at the PDF creation, but I prefer to see my own color valueswhile working than open a PDF and go, Oh...that's not what I thought it would look like.

             

            Take care, Mike

            • 3. Re: RGB vs. CMYK Colorspace - Which is best to work in?
              Rik Ramsay Level 4

              InDesign by default is set in the CMYK colorspace which is what most people  who use InDesign would need. The only way to set InDesign into RGB is to declare your document intent as "web" which is a bad idea for any document that you might eventually print. If you know from the get-go you will be printing your document, set InDesign to the print intent. If you are designing for the web, set it up in RGB (web intent).

               

              As for your images, I used to convert them to my CMYK profile early on and work that way but changed my methods a few years back as Photoshop has less editing options for CMYK images. My advice would be to keep the photo's/images in RGB until you are ready to send the document to print, then convert to your CMYK profile - IF sending to a conventional 4 color print press. If you are sending to a digital printer (including desktops), it matters less about converting to CMYK.

               

              Of course you could keep the images in RGB anyway and let InDesign (or the PDF export) convert them all to the same CMYK profile but you might see color shifts, as you have been experiencing. By converting them yourself in Photoshop before you send to print, you see the changes and can adjust accordingly.

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              • 4. Re: RGB vs. CMYK Colorspace - Which is best to work in?
                rob day Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                InDesign by default is set in the CMYK colorspace

                 

                InDesign does not have a document color space–it can contain a mix of RGB, Lab, or CMYK colored objects. Documents do have a Transparency Blend Space (RGB, or CMYK), but the transparency blend space only handles the flattening of transparent pages and has no roll in pages without transparency. The web document preset doesn't stop you from using a CMYK color or placing a CMYK image.

                 

                The conversion of RGB or Lab color to CMYK on export or print is virtually identical to the mode conversion you would get in Photoshop assuming the color settings are the same. So, the only advantage in making the conversion in PS is if you need to make a post conversion color correction—you want a color that's outside of the RGB gamut like 100% cyan or there's text that has to be black only.

                 

                If you use RGB for a press project you do have to be aware of gamuts. Turning on Separation or Overprint Preview forces the color preview into your document's assigned CMYK profile.

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                • 5. Re: RGB vs. CMYK Colorspace - Which is best to work in?
                  rob day Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                  By converting them yourself in Photoshop before you send to print, you see the changes and can adjust accordingly

                   

                  You don't have to make the conversion to see the output numbers and preview.

                   

                  Here is a doc filled with out-of-gamut AdobeRGB blue 50|100|225. I have my working CMYK space set to US SWOP and my Proof Setup as EuroScale Coated. With proof colors turned on I get the EuroScale preview, and in the Info panel I can see the SWOP working space numbers (left), the EuroScale numbers (right, Proof Colors), and the document RGB numbers:

                   

                  PhotoshopScreenSnapz001.png

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                  • 6. Re: RGB vs. CMYK Colorspace - Which is best to work in?
                    bnies813 Level 1

                    Thanks guys. This was a lot of help - honestly!

                    • 7. Re: RGB vs. CMYK Colorspace - Which is best to work in?
                      johnhollands Level 1

                      The issue of RGB Vs CMYK occurs in video too.

                       

                      My simple take: - video uses a black starting point (a blank screen is black) whereas printing "USUALLY" starts with a WHITE page. The blank page is white.

                       

                      So video doesn't have to add black, it already has it and print does need to add black (but not white).

                       

                      That said, looking at stuff on a monitor should be RGB (because it's fundamentally video, right?) and it doesn't matter if you are looking at your work during design or people are looking at finished work; if it is on a monitor it must be RGB.

                       

                      Furthermore, editing software WILL NOT ACCEPT CMYK graphics. It reports an error and won't import the file/s.

                       

                      Tedious.

                       

                      I'd recommend working always in RGB, which is best for web and video, as for print, let the Printers sort it out. Else it's just another case of antiquated analogue practices holding back digital.

                      • 8. Re: RGB vs. CMYK Colorspace - Which is best to work in?
                        rob day Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                        Adobe’s print applications don’t assume there is a single RGB and CMYK color space. All RGB and CMYK colors are assigned device profiles and are converted into your system’s monitor profile via the device independent Lab space. CMYK Profiles let you soft proof the difference between very different printing conditions—for example newsprint on a web press vs. coated paper on a sheeted press.

                         

                        The Adobe color management system along with ColorSync has been around for about 20 years.

                         

                        Indesign lets you mix and color manage RGB, Lab, and CMYK color objects on the same page. Working in an editing RGB space that’s larger than your monitor’s space like AdobeRGB or ProPhotoRGB for images has the advantage of including parts of the CMYK space that are not in smaller display RGB spaces like sRGB.

                         

                        There are also cases for press work where you have to spec CMYK builds, i.e. if you want a black only neutral like 50%K output to the press, that would have to be a CMYK mode swatch.

                        • 9. Re: RGB vs. CMYK Colorspace - Which is best to work in?
                          Danny Whitehead. Adobe Community Professional

                          johnhollands  wrote

                           

                          I'd recommend working always in RGB, which is best for web and video, as for print, let the Printers sort it out. Else it's just another case of antiquated analogue practices holding back digital.

                          The light that emits from a screen is as analogue as the ink that hits the paper. Antiquated or not, if your client intends to use your work in both print and screen, they're paying you to understand and predict the limitations of both. That branding that relies on R0 G255 B0 may look great in a video, but it's not the printer's fault when the direct mail campaign looks nothing like it, it's yours.

                           

                          So, you've got to strike a balance between consistency and making the most of each media, and it's different for every project.

                          • 10. Re: RGB vs. CMYK Colorspace - Which is best to work in?
                            John Mensinger Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                            johnhollands  wrote

                             

                            . . . as for print, let the Printers sort it out.

                            Really? In any context, that's terrible advice.

                            Else it's just another case of antiquated analogue practices holding back digital.

                            There is plenty of design of which the primary impetus is print, and the notion is neither antiquated nor passé. Indeed the OP's question was about print-destined design. If you design for screen first and leave print concerns to someone else, then why you would resurrect a 6-years-dormant thread about print to say so is beyond me.

                            • 11. Re: RGB vs. CMYK Colorspace - Which is best to work in?
                              rob day Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                              resurrect a 6-years-dormant thread

                              Just to be clear the OP's original post from 2012 was confusing the document's Transparency Blend Space with an actual document color space. InDesign, unlike Illustrator and Photoshop, doesn't have a document color space or mode.

                               

                              InDesign and Acrobat need the Transparency Blend Space feature because it is possible to mix different color spaces with transparency and there can only be one color space if and when the transparency gets flattened downstream.

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                              • 12. Re: RGB vs. CMYK Colorspace - Which is best to work in?
                                Danny Whitehead. Adobe Community Professional

                                https://forums.adobe.com/people/John+Mensinger  wrote

                                 

                                johnhollands   wrote

                                 

                                . . . as for print, let the Printers sort it out.

                                Really? In any context, that's terrible advice.

                                Except imposition!