Such a vague question - I tried to keep it general, sorry!

I want to use a photo I have for an album cover on a site used to order custom CD cases.

I uploaded it, and it said it needs to be 300 dpi (I think) and in CMYK format. After some Googling, I found a website that converts my photo into that format (color scheme? type? not sure what this is exactly. Range?)

Anyway, when I converted it, the colors got much darker! Lost the effect I worked to achieve when editing my photo.

  • How can I convert to this format while maintaining the same appearance?
  • If I don't comply and ignore the warning, just how bad could it turn out in the print? Is it hard/impossible to say, or is it just "meh"?
  • I don't know what to do about the DPI discrepancy. How do I find out what my photo is, and is there a "close-enough" range? If I really SHOULD get it to 300 or whatever it suggests, what will it look like if I don't?

Essentially, can I get away with ignoring it, and if not, how should I proceed? It's so important to me to use my graphic if I can!


Yes if you print with a normal commercial printer the colors need to be converted to cmyk. Yes cmyk does not have the same range of colors as your monitors simply because paper does not light up by itself. But you should evaluate the picture on a screen with no white visible to understand what the relative range is. Since your monitor is not calibrated you cant really adjust the colors efficiently. You couldbcalibrate but it probably wont help you money wise, ask for a proof. If you dont convert to cmyk then you will get a random result.

DPI just means you need to have enough pixels. If you dont have enough pixels it will not work out very well waste of money. You may want to print the image with a office printer to get the feel of resolution, even if colors wont work well. If it looks bad with that it looks bad in commercial print.

Yes it can get really bad as in utterly unusable.

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  • Hey there, thanks for the answer. Follow-up question : if I print it out on card-stock, is that what I'll get on the print? Is that a reliable test? – Natalie Paige Jul 20 '18 at 22:18
  • @NataliePaige vell its as reliable as your proofing method is but atleast you can get some ubderstanding to the rasterising process – joojaa Jul 20 '18 at 22:31

Printing on your own inkjet printer is different from commercial printing. Commercial printers need CMYK files to create separations to make printing plates.

Ordinary home/office printers generally can't print CMYK images properly - they will come out too dark and with the colours messed up. These printers are set up for printing RGB images.

Many image viewers on computers can't even display CMYK images properly. You need special software to view them.

If you want free software, you can download Krita. It can convert RGB images to CMYK images, export them, and it can display them properly.

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