So I bought a good inkjet printer and wanted to print some photos with it, the colors were kinda dark and dull compared to what I see on screen.

I made my researches and I understood that CMYK and RGB are 2 diff things, and I can only try to match what I see on screen choosing the right CMYK values, so I did try editing photographic attributes like sharpness, levels, hues, saturation, etc...

I did this for a few weeks and I printed more than 350 images... I finally got close to the colors I see on screen but still, they are not as rich or vibrant as they should be... So I thought maybe I should buy brighter paper or better-coated paper...

I did try few diff ones they were almost the same (I don't have big choice of paper in my country, all that we have available in market is normal plain copy paper and some cheap matte photo paper and plotter paper) so I thought maybe I should try to treat the paper to make the photo look good on it.

I tried to put a plain paper into water with salt and fabric softener, leave it for few minutes then get it out of the solution and let it dry overnight, the next day when it is dry I printed on it, and this did help a little bit the quality with making the paper absorb less ink, but I wasn't fully satisfied, I thought I would spray it with some acrylic matt spray varnish (I did not find inkjet fixative) when I spray it the colors become so rich and nice but when I let it dry they become even duller than what they were before should I buy a glossy varnish instead?...

Can you guys recommend anything regarding this issue? thank you!

  • 5
    Never send CMYK colors to an inkjet printer.. send RGB data. 99.9% of inkjets do not have a postscript RIP.....and without a RIP, CMYK merely confuses the inkjet.
    – Scott
    Nov 25, 2019 at 3:11
  • 2
    Yes, all inkjet home printers are designed to receive RGB.. I tried both anywa with every single detail, I did print more than 350 test photo as I said each photo had diff settings.. it seems like no matter how good the printer is I will never get good results without a high quality paper
    – user145929
    Nov 25, 2019 at 3:22
  • There is no magick shortcut. If there was then it would be widely used by your printer vendors.
    – joojaa
    Nov 25, 2019 at 6:07

2 Answers 2


The image should be RGB for home/office/consumer grade inkjet printers, also make sure you save it with an sRGB profile. These kind of machines can't print CMYK images properly. Also make sure you are using genuine ink cartridges for your machine, I've found that cheap inkjet cartridges often give poorer results. Print on glossy photo paper for bright colours. Make sure you choose the glossy paper setting in your print settings, some printers have an advanced setting for photo prints which makes them pop a bit more. Check your printer documentation to find out if yours has such a feature.


True, on the computer side stick with RGB and maybe increase PPI. It's easy to say "you just need a better printer," but I like anyone who tries fabric softener for print quality.

Your instincts were half right though, remember: you're making a physical product so try applying a gloss /after/ printing if it's a richness issue and not a detail issue, that is. Sometimes even 'Modge-Podge' does the trick to richen it up because the goal is to create a physical distortion of light between your eye and the image itself... but try a thin coat of anything "brush-on" after drying the ink.

Glossy paper might not work, because the glossy finish is probably not best utilized by a typical inkjet. Otherwise the physical saturation is the ink's fault. In my experience, you can enhance the richness of colors by basically creating a lens /after/ the printing is done. Glossy paper usually needs a very precise printing method, it doesn't "bleed" so it sounds like a good idea, but it actually needs less ink or the normal amount has nowhere to go and definition boundaries become more blurry.

I say use a brush on gloss application because spray-on is like punching fresh ink in the face and makes it bleed more, but if brush strokes are a concern you can use a spray. Shellac will tinge your image with sepia, Elmer's glue will wash it out or reduce the apparent saturation a bit, although it isn't bad for most things, same goes for acrylic coatings. Instead of those, I like to spray prints with either "workable fixative" (hobby lobby) or any hair spray, then lightly coat them with oil-based gloss.

Oil based will tend to smear stuff without a distant shot of hair spray first, but when it works, it enhances the appearance of the colors and can even sharpen an image because it creates a "lens" layer over the 2D image, causing our eyes to see 'richer' colors and a bit more contrast.

  • thx, I have a high resolution printer, I'm satisfied with how crisp and detailed the images I print are, my only prob is getting the colors to be more bright/vibrant I tried everything possible with photoshop and printer settings so that's why I jumped for other solutions. as I said I tried spraying my printed photo with a matt picture varnish, as soon as I spray them the colors get rich and vibrant (I thought I solved the problem when I first tried it) but then when I let the varnish dry, the photo will become again dark and dull, do you think a glossy varnish would dry with better results?
    – user145929
    Nov 25, 2019 at 4:03
  • Doh whoops, I edited my old post instead of making a new one but I did try to answer from what I've done
    – user145930
    Nov 25, 2019 at 4:24
  • thank you for your help!
    – user145929
    Nov 25, 2019 at 4:32

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