Graphic Design Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for Graphic Design professionals, students, and enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

When I convert from RGB to CMYK in Photoshop as you know colors change saturation and maybe some hue.

So basically what the title asks, does it matter when I adjust the colors and saturation via hue/saturation layer? Or can I fix the colors in RGB or in CMYK and it doesn't matter?

share|improve this question
What do you mean 'fix colors'? – DA01 Jan 21 '14 at 22:57
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Actually, to do things correctly you need to color adjust at least twice.

If you are working in RGB, you should color correct in RGB.

And if you then convert to CMYK, you should color correct again for CMYK.

One color correction is never a good idea if you change color modes.

share|improve this answer
So the image needs adjusting before and after, I guess adjusting colors before helps with the conversion? – Matic Jan 21 '14 at 22:28
Most people and projects nowadays require an RGB and a CMYK version of an image. If you need both formats, you should color correct both formats. If you only need one format, you should work in that format. So if you only need a CMYK image, work in CMYK. If you are using filters or something which require RGB, then color correcting in RGB helps you work in a more targeted manner and ensures colors are "close" before the conversion to CMYK. Ultimately you always want to color correct on the final output color space. – Scott Jan 21 '14 at 22:33
Lets say I want to continue working in CMYK, can I just convert RGB to CMYK and then "fix" colors in CMYK? Or is it better to do it before in RGB, or it doesn't matter, color wise? – Matic Jan 21 '14 at 22:42
Yes. If you are working in CMYK you can simply convert then color correct. But color correction should always be one of the last steps in any image editing processes. – Scott Jan 21 '14 at 23:03
Well thank you for all these answers Scott! – Matic Jan 21 '14 at 23:07

If you plan to prepare a project for printing, go straight to CMYK mode and calibrate your color as the first step.

Color correction should be the first step since you might need to choose the layout's Pantones or CMYK colors that fit with or is from your pictures...

Usually in the printing industry, this is the first step because all the material is prepared first by the "color management" team and then sent to the designers. Then some adjustments can be done again but they are usually minor. The same process is logical for freelance designers.

If you calibrate your colors at the end, you could 1) forget to do it or 2) have mismatch in your layout and then have to change your CMYK recipes in it it (or them) (eg. InDesign, Illustrator, etc.) It's efficient to do it as first step and then build your layout on a solid foundation!

If you received quality pictures from a photographer or bought stock pictures, the images are usually already well calibrated in RGB and they don't require a lot of adjustments if this step was well done.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.