I'm editing an image for print and I've got it all set up how I want in Photoshop (cs5), but when I go to File > Save as > Jpeg (quality 12, Baseline standard) the colours all seem duller and there seems to be a 'fog' over the image. I'm not sure if this has anything to do with it but the image is A2 at 300dpi, any ideas why this is happening and how to prevent it?

I've attached a screenshot of the problem below, on the left is the image in Photoshop, and on the right is the 'foggy' image when exported as a jpeg.

I've also found that if I set the image > mode > RGB (it was CMYK before) the problem goes away.. but I'm printing this on a printer that specifies CMYK.. so I've half solved the problem, any idea how to get this to export correctly in CMYK?

foggy image

  • Does your final image have to be a jpg? If you are saving for print, why not use a TIFF or an EPS? JPG are meant for compression and with CMYK, you are probably losing color information.
    – ckpepper02
    Nov 19, 2013 at 20:58
  • 1
    what are you using to preview the jpeg? CMYK jpegs are not supported by all software and the ones that do don't all use any embedded profiles. Alternatively, the CMYK jpeg may be erroneously displayed as a preview for an RGB color space (Note that all CMYK images are simulated on RGB montors) and may not look washed out when printed. If you are in doubt, have a hard-copy proof pulled by your printer
    – horatio
    Nov 19, 2013 at 21:10
  • @ckpepper02 - Thanks ive tried .tif and .eps (isnt eps normally a vector format ?) - What was intersting is that the .tif didnt work when viewed in Preview. But instead i viewed it in Adobe Bridge and both of them worked.
    – sam
    Nov 19, 2013 at 21:15
  • @horatio - Thanks i tried it in another image viewer, i usually used Preview, but instead used Bridge and they seemed to come out better when done as a .tif - is Bridge a normal program to use for this or are there more conventional image viewing tools ?
    – sam
    Nov 19, 2013 at 21:16
  • 1
    It is a matter of trust really. I have learned to trust one particular monitor, Photoshop and Acrobat/Distiller (for PDF I make on the same machine). If things look OK there, they will probably print fine, despite what OS Preview or Internet Exploder show me. I trust them from past experience and "post-mortem" comparison of printed items with what my equipment displays.
    – horatio
    Nov 19, 2013 at 21:19

3 Answers 3


Printers, unless you have a full press with inkwells and rollers you clean, do NOT work with CMYK data. Every end user printer on the market expects and needs to see RGB data. Even many high-end "digital presses" expect to be sent RGB data.

What happens..

  • You send data to the printer
  • If that data is RGB, the printer converts the RGB to CMYK based on it's profile settings, then outputs.
  • If that data is CMYK the printer doesn't understand the data, so it assumes/converts it to RGB data, then converts it to CMYK based on it's profiles. Then outputs. You get a double color conversion this way which almost always changes color values.

I have never seen an end user printer on the market which requires, recommends, or expects you to send it CMYK data, even the most expensive, professional, end user printers want to see RGB data. You may want to check the user manual for your printer.

This is why, as you added, "the problem goes away" if you send the printer RGB data.

The comments don't make a great deal of sense. If the "print shop" specifies they need a CMYK image, then send them the correct CMYK image. But then JPG is an inappropriate format for CMYK. If you must send a CMYK image, save it as a .tif or .pdf and send that. Basically you're mixing and matching color spaces and formats in ways that will almost always yield undesirable results. If jpg, then RGB. If CMYK then tif.

  • Thanks - for this particular image it was being printed large on an HP indigo digital press, so its not really an end user machine, do you know if they would explicitly require CMYK ?
    – sam
    Jan 16, 2014 at 14:21
  • If the Indigo is properly configured, RGB color profiles should be honored and not be an issue. If you search the web you can find a color profile for the Indigo though. That would allow you to assign the profile and check color before sending the image off.
    – Scott
    Jan 16, 2014 at 16:27

It seems like your exported JPEG image is using a different color space. While it's possible this is caused by the export process, it could be a number of other things, as well (the viewer program doesn't support color profiles for your .jpg, for example).

If possible, I'd suggest printing a sample of each image. While the discrepancy on your screen is annoying, it's more important to get the colors in the print correct, and then fix your monitor/software/OS combination to match those colors.


I see that you are using picasa to view your image, picasa does not support CMYK jpeg as far as I can tell.

try using another software to view your image and see if that works.

  • Actually in the screenshot in the post the image on the left is in photoshop, the image on the right is open in mac's preview app
    – sam
    Jan 5, 2015 at 22:39

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