6 Replies Latest reply on Apr 4, 2012 6:09 PM by bnies813

    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 4

            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!