So I bought this business card template that comes as a PSD file with the U.S Web Coated (SWOP) v2 CMYK profile. I edited it in Photoshop and then found out the printer company:

  • wants CMYK colour mode and uses FOGRA39 as the profile.
  • says fonts must be converted into paths / curves or embedded completely.
  • suggests to send PDF/ X-standard (PDF/ X3-standard or PDF/ X1a-standard).

So now I am unsure what to do so colors on the card look as close as these on screen:

  1. Convert to FOGRA39 > save as PDF using FOGRA39
  2. Rasterize > Flatten > convert to FOGRA39 > save as PDF using FOGRA39
  3. Save as PDF using FOGRA39 directly

Also I believe Photoshop uses vector fonts, thus I assume it is better NOT to rasterize them, so when saved to PDF they look great at any magnification? Would that work if the printer company doesn't have the font? I mean is this what they mean by "embedded completely"

Thank you.

3 Answers 3


Alternatively, if you remove all of the type layers from Photoshop and just set up your business card artwork to be the background for an Illustrator file... then you can reset the type in Illustrator and convert all text to outlines.

Just mind your Photoshop background file resolution and color mode, and make sure your Rasterize settings in Illustrator are set correctly.

Embedding fonts and emailing font files can be iffy unless you are familiar with the printer. Converting them to outlines locks them down as vector shapes. No rasterizing necessary.

  • Yes! Good option that I completely forgot about...converting type to paths is certainly a viable option as well.
    – DA01
    Oct 30, 2013 at 15:29
  • So is it a good idea not to convert to FOGRA39 inside Photoshop, but choose it when saving: i.imgur.com/E2vr0kD.png And also I don't rasterize, but just flatten. Nov 1, 2013 at 1:50
  • If you're submitting a PDF/X standard file (as you should), you should convert to the target color space in Photoshop. In theory, it makes no difference. In practice, it's a) easy to forget that you have to change it every time you export, and b) changing the target color profile in the PDF dialog is a lot more complex. PDF/X standards preclude an embedded color profile, so you have to get it right up front. Nov 1, 2013 at 21:43

If you don't need exact colors, converting the color profile will likely be just fine.

Fonts can be retained as fonts in a PSD file, but the printer then needs a copy of those fonts to then open it.

When you create the PDF, however, you can embed the fonts (provided the fonts you are using allow for embedding). In that situation, the font information is embedded in the PDF file so the printer doesn't need the separate PDF font files.

Alternatively, you can rasterize the type. If you working with a relatively high resolution image, this is likely the easiest solution all around. However if it's a lower-resolution image, you are correct in that rasterizing will 'lock' the type to that particular resolution and likely not produces the best results for you.

  • I want to point out to the OP that "option 2" is the same as DA01's last paragraph. Flattening and rasterizing everything precludes the need for PDF format, just save it as TIFF. DA01 is correct in stating that this option may not be a good choice for you.
    – horatio
    Oct 30, 2013 at 14:29
  • Thank you for your answer, but I am still unsure of how to proceed. I would like to send the file in PDF, so how do I make sure the fonts are embedded and also vector? I've noticed that if I rasterize the image and then save to PDF, the fonts does not look good at high magnification, but if I just save to PDF they they look awesome even at 6400x zoom. My main concern is color consistency - I want the final printer card to have colors that are as close to what I see on screen as possible. Nov 1, 2013 at 1:45
  • @user2247336 what resolution is the rasterized image? Keep in mind ANY rasterized image will look bad if you zoom in far enough. As for embedding the fonts, that should be an option in the PDF export process. Look for it there.
    – DA01
    Nov 1, 2013 at 3:15
  • Image is 300dpi, so even if I rasterize the fonts they will still look good on the card, but I want to embed them just in case. What about the color reproduction? Nov 1, 2013 at 12:15

PDF/X-1a is the safe choice for print in almost all cases. Fonts are embedded (if they permit embedding, which any professional-grade font does), so there is no concern about possible substitutions with the reflow and kerning issues they entail. The reason PDF/X is so useful is that it is an open standard supported by all modern prepress workflows and RIPs. Both you and the printer are dealing with a known quantity, which avoids surprises. (Surprises are wonderful when you're designing. When the ink hits the paper on an expensive production run, not so much. That's why we still do press checks on color-critical work.)

If the printer has a .joboptions file available, as many do, you should install it and use that in the PDF export dialog. This is especially important when sending to magazine or billboard publishers, but it's just a good idea in general. In OS X, .joboptions files go in Library > Application Support > Adobe > Adobe PDF > Settings. In Windows 7+, they go in [system drive]:\ProgramData\Adobe\Adobe PDF\Extras.

Convert to the target color profile in Photoshop. You should not see a significant color change on screen unless you're converting from an RGB color model to CMYK (and not always then). This is for convenience. Converting inside the PDF export dialog uses exactly the same engine to do the conversion, but the interface is more complex (and it's easy to forget, in the rush of a deadline, to make the change).

  • Thank you for your answer. The business card came in U.S Web Coated (SWOP) v2 CMYK profile and that's what I've been working in. The printer tells me they use FOGRA39, but I asked them if I embed U.S Web Coated (SWOP) v2 CMYK profile they can use it. But I'm not sure I can embed CMYK profile in a PDF file. Can you? Also when I convert from U.S Web Coated (SWOP) v2 CMYK profile to FOGRA39 I get a slight color change in each corner - blue becomes a little purple, which is something I want to avoid. Can I skype you maybe to send you the file to give me advice. Thank you in advance. Nov 4, 2013 at 2:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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