I created a banner that my boss wants to print out. The printing company needs the image in CMYK and as for format, I wanted to use .tif . I have never used that one before or prepared banner for print. Anyway, I sent the prepared-for-print image to my boss and when he opened it, the colors were reversed. He used a program called IrfanView.

I checked everything on my side, as well as downloaded the banner to another computer and everything seems to be fine. I am terribly scared that the print will turn out reverse as well. It is my first official graphic job.

So I want to know if there is any mistake on my side and how to export .tif in CMYK in Photoshop properly, so the colors are okay. If I should save layers, too or without them is okay, or there is something called ICC profile I used without even knowing what that thing is... I am confused. And panicking, please help.

  • 1
    What does your banner actually contain? And what application did you use to make it (just Photoshop?)? TIFF is a raster format, so everything is based on pixels – the more pixels, the better the resolution. If your banner is all pictures, that works. But if it’s actually mostly text and simple shapes, a vector-based format like PDF is probably a better bet: any actual pictures embedded would still be raster, but text and shapes would be vectors, mathematically defined shapes that can be sized up or down with no loss in quality. Aug 1, 2020 at 16:54

2 Answers 2


Many applications do not support CMYK color. They don't understand it. Because they don't understand CMYK there's no telling what they may do in terms of color. I believe InfranView is one such app. There are a plethora of raster image editors out there which have no clue that CMYK exists.

Your boss needs to use an app which does support CMYK, such as Photoshop. In a pinch, have her/him open the tiff with Adobe Acrobat or Reader.

There's an extreme possibility any issues your boss is seeing are due to the application in use, not the tiff format itself.

As for saving.. it's best to save without layers or transparency for the Tiff format. Layers/transparency in a tiff are proprietary Adobe things and not inherently supported in the format. Essentially, assuming the image is set to 300ppi, flatten the image and save as Tiff. There's not much more you need worry about

  • Thank you. I asked him to try other programs, but he did not answer yet. Anyway, does it mean my boss might not see the proper image, but the printing company with all the graphic department and stuff will be okay? Like, even the default Windows photo viewer showed it properly. (there remains a question if the company would contact us before printing ridiculously colored banner)
    – Tajee
    Jul 31, 2020 at 10:40
  • @Tajee Most production houses will provide a proof before reproduction. But, you will need to ask about that to be certain. I can't say specifically why your boss may be seeing "reversed" colors, but using substandard software for CMYK is a good bet.
    – Scott
    Jul 31, 2020 at 10:42
  • Another option is to send your boss a PDF instead. Adobe Reader is free and will display it properly. PDF is also suitable for print.
    – Billy Kerr
    Jul 31, 2020 at 11:02
  • @BillyKerr you can simply drag a .tff (or any raster image) to Reader and it'll open. You don't necessarily "need" a PDF.
    – Scott
    Jul 31, 2020 at 18:40
  • 1
    In all fairness, I don't have Reader installed. It tends to conflict with Acrobat (even though it's not supposed to). So, maybe it's more of a Reader limitation as opposed to Windows.
    – Scott
    Jul 31, 2020 at 18:48

I do not mean to be rude, but your process is wrong on many levels.

But If you are really panicking, Don't. there is light at the end of the answer.

or there is something called ICC profile I used without even knowing what that thing is

So, How did you convert it to CMYK in the first place, because the conversion totally depends on that little thing called ICC profile?

I sent the prepared-for-print image

It is not prepared for print. You do not know the conditions they will be printed on, so the file is not prepared for that. That is what a color profile is needed.

in Photoshop

Did you prepare the final project on Ps? I hope you have the dimensions right. Do you know about the resolution?

Did you prepared the file as RGB or CMYK, so do you know the maximum ink values accepted?

I wanted to use .tif

Why? Probably because you heard that is a format for printing... But you need to understand what is really needed for printing, and this file format is not "needed" in this case.

I sent the prepared-for-print image to my boss and when he opened it, the colors were reversed. He used a program called IrfanView

There is no program on the planet that I am aware of that reads a CMYK file "reversed"

Here is a program called Irfan View with a CMYK file that is not reversed, you can see the data on the information window. CMYK, Resolution, Compression. And with the colors pretty much OK.

enter image description here

But even in that case, why your boss needs to view the print-ready file when he is not using software to view a print-ready file? Why do you even send a print-ready file for review when you should send a preview file for approval, and then send a print-ready file for print? Why you do not know what software the other parts of the process are using, especially on your workspace?

If I should save layers, too or without them is okay

Why would anyone need layers for a print-ready file? A print-ready file is a file fixed, not to be edited in almost any way.

So... What is happening?

What Irfan view does not do well is reading the color profile of a TIF file. and it oversaturates it. But the colors are not reversed.

enter image description here

That is what a color profile does and why it is important. It tells, not only the ink values but "how are they supposed to look" on the medium you are printing.

But the good news is that that way you can be sure it is a CMYK file. n_n

What to do:

  1. Ask for the CMYK profile. If they do not say a word, use a generic one, but USE ONE.

Fogra 39 is commonly used for Digital print. If the printing company has no clue or just says "whatever" yes, just use it.

  1. Confirm the resolution. For a digital banner, 150 PPI is fine.

  2. You do not "need" to send a Tif file. A well prepared JPG file in CMYK color mode is fine. The "Maximum" quality slider in Ps uses a quality level of 10. Slide it to 12.

This JPG can be read properly in Irfan View, but most importantly it is a good format for a digital print.

  1. Please, study about color profiles, and how to properly send a print-ready file. There is so much more, that has to be done in a file.

What you should do next time?

Assemble the file in a vector-based program, especially the texts. You need to understand the differences and usage of them.

Export the file to a PDF file, text converted to curves. (This is a format that also needs to be understood, resolution, compression, color profiles, color conversion, font management)

Tell you boss to use Adobe Reader.

In some other cases, for digital print, they do not ask for a CMYK file, because the conversion from the RGB file is made by them with the specific color conversions, that in my opinion, is the right approach.


  • True. I deleted that part. Ty.
    – Rafael
    Aug 1, 2020 at 11:13

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