First time posting here after reading a lot. I have to send my design to the printer for vinyl artwork. Now the printer specs read:

"Color room is CMYK and / or spot colors, without color profiles or color management".

In the past, I already did the artwork for vinyl, and they provided an ICC profile and a detailed how-to. This printer doesn't. I can't contact the printer themselves because the vinyl pressing firm doesn't give the contact information. I am desperate because the more I read, the more confused I get. Can anybody help me? Thanks in advance.

I am using InDesign, the latest version. The artwork consists of an image brought into InDesign, where I apply the text and stuff.

  • Choose another printer, or get a free test proof first.
    – Tetsujin
    Jun 15, 2022 at 17:10
  • Yeah that's not possible the client chose that one. Jun 15, 2022 at 17:13
  • 1
    @vincentadeyemo why would it matter. Its not like the printer is following the colormanagement info anyway.
    – joojaa
    Jun 15, 2022 at 17:41
  • 2
    Explain to the client that they now have zero colour management & to be happy with whatever it is they are sent, with no complaints. See if that changes their minds.
    – Tetsujin
    Jun 15, 2022 at 17:43
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    @Tetsujin good point, though they do provide color management with spot colors so if its a limitted color job. Anyway, its important to tell to the client that the job can not be rerun the same way elsewhere.
    – joojaa
    Jun 15, 2022 at 18:29

1 Answer 1


Export as PDF/X-1a, known as PDF X-1, it's one of the standard-settings in the export (or save as in Illustrator)

PDF/X-1a comes along with CMYK an spot-colors only, no profiles or Colormanagement.

Disadvantage: Smooth Shades in only 256 steps. That means your gradiens could look disgusting. There won't be any Vector transparency. Those will be converted to images. This is often a pile of huge problems. Avoid Text being converted to an image. RGB will always be converted to CMYK.

Not having colormanagement you leave more scope of measurement to your printer. You should tag your PDF with the Colormanagement you were designing in. InDesign and Illustrator does this as a standard in the export.

In InDesign choose X1 from the top select-box first: Screenshot from InDesign

In output choose the Colormanagement you were designing in. It will be chosen automatically. Remember to check the Rendering Intent, it's just the name of your color profile you were desiging in. This tag will be embedded in your PDF. The PDF itself will have NO colormanagement-data.

Screenshot from InDesign

On top is a switch to convert RGB-Data to CMYK. Sorry, the screenshots are from the german version.

  • You may want to add that PDF/X-1 Can have no transparency, and no RGB either. ANyway if i were designing for PDF/X-1 i would expect the printer to tell me to use X-1 and tell me what space their CMYK is calibrated to.
    – joojaa
    Jun 17, 2022 at 9:24
  • Thanks jojaa, now it's more accurate. X1 is totally outdated but there are still some reasons for it. I had a client with huge catalogs for kitchen parts. The major parts were printed in K only (grayscales). There was only text and black line-art. The printer insisted on X1. Due to the line-art images from Illustrator. Some of those were in RGB. They just left CMY. K wasn't 100 % in the data of course, horrible!
    – AndyWizz
    Jun 17, 2022 at 9:35

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