Color Management for digital painters



  • Was wondering about the issue of color management. I use a spyder 4 color calibrator on my three monitors and it seems even when I get my image looking nice on those three monitors I still find when I look at the image on other people's monitors that the image looks way different as far as color and color temp. (Blues and purples seem to be really bad) just wondering if there is any real cure for this issue? Also is it the illustrator's responsibility to make sure the image is converted into CMYK for printing or does that get taken care of by the client? Do you send your files in RGB or convert them first? Thanks.



  • @evilrobot I get frustrated with this too.

    I have never used a spyder so I can't comment on that. I do know that sites like PrintNinja say that if you don't convert to CMYK for them you can't get upset if/when the colors aren't exactly the way you want them when the image is printed.

    I may be going with them for a book I just finished. I did the RGB to CMYK conversion in photoshop....I don't know if I did something wrong but I see almost ZERO difference in colors. I tested out a couple different images.

    Maybe I just happened to pick colors that worked the same in both modes?



  • Ugh, this is such a jungle!
    These are my five cents, for what it's worth :)

    When it comes to calibrating for other monitors than your own, I personally try to make sure that I don't have way too much subtle detail in the darks and lights, since that's where the pro monitors are really good, but the regular consumer ones just goes straight to black or blows out to white. People just have the worst monitors! ;)

    Regarding converting images from RGB to CMYK, if you have contact with the printing place, you can get their specific CMYK profile from in order to know that it gets converted correctly. There are generic ones in Photoshop, as you've already found, but if you get it printed professionally you can either ask the printers for their profile, or they can probably take care of it and use their expertise to make it match the RGB as close as they can.

    Unfortunately some of those juicy RGB colors are just going to turn out a little dull, like bright greens :(


  • administrators

    I can give you a few recommendations here. First off, always print your work out (making sure that it looks good to you and matches your screen reasonably well) Send this proof to the client. Having a hard copy is the only real way you will all be on the same page in terms of color. It's super frustrating I know.

    When working in RGB, use the Adobe1998 color profile. It's a very stable profile that works across most monitors. If your file isn't already using that profile, click "convert to profile under "Edit" in the photoshop menu.

    If you want to change the file to CMYK (which you should if you are printing - unless otherwise directed), then use the "Convert to Profile " again and select " US WEB coated (SWOP) v2. This is a CMYK profile and will make that transformation for you. Make sure the "flatten layers" button is selected. Now save the file with a separate name so you don't lose all those layers in your RGB file.

    This method was told to me by a printing guru and I've used it for years without any trouble at all. ; )


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