My question is related to this one:
What's the point of converting RGB images to CMYK TIF/TIFF before placing them in InDesign?

I am preparing some artwork in Illustrator, which contains some bitmaps created in Photoshop.

The printer has asked for PDF format, 300dpi CMYK with 'no embedded colour profile'.

I am unsure of the best workflow. I had assumed I should convert my bitmaps from RGB -> CMYK in Photoshop and save as TIFF, then place that in Illustrator. But when changing colour mode Photoshop asks which colour profile to use and I believe that profile is then embedded in the TIFF.

Reading the answers to question linked above it sounds like I would be best to instead leave my bitmap artwork as RGB, place it in Illustrator and just export the PDF... then at point of printing (i.e not by me) the conversion from RGB->CMYK using most appropriate profile would be done.

From what I have read there is also the possibility to place RGB artwork in Illustrator but export the PDF as CMYK, but presumably this means using a particular colour profile... which would then be embedded in the PDF?

It is hard to reconcile with what the printer has asked for, possibly I am misunderstanding.

Either way I should obviously attempt to preview my RGB bitmaps as CMYK beforehand of course.

2 Answers 2


I'm not a CMYK master by any means, but I've dealt with enough third-party printers to have heard this come up several times in the past. Any press operators out there who have better info that this, I welcome it.

Your printer is leaving a piece of the puzzle out. As you've discovered, you can't convert to CMYK without converting to a specific CMYK color profile. From that point, you can untag the image by assigning 'no profile', so the profile is not embedded.

Maybe your printer doesn't want that profile embedded (why, I don't know - profiles take up very little space, and at worst they properly define color appearance, which is the whole point of color management). Your printer needs to either tell you what specific profile to convert to, or allow you to submit RGB files in either AdobeRGB or sRGB, and handle the conversion on their end. And either way, I hope you'll be able to see a printed proof before the final run, because with this kind of instruction from the printer, I'd be wary of the results.

If they do tell you which CMYK profile to use, previewing your bitmaps in that space while making final adjustments will definitely help keep color where you want it when converting.

  • I always submit/create TIFFs without profiles. The only surprise the OP will have is when they find that their monitor is horribly uncalibrated. I usually use proofs and the finished product to dial in my monitor calibration as a post-mortem step. This way I can know my monitor approximates the pressman's calibrations.
    – Yorik
    Jun 25, 2015 at 14:59
  • I actually asked up front which colour profile to use, and they replied with the 'no embedded profiles' response. I will definitely get a proof.
    – Anentropic
    Jun 25, 2015 at 17:10
  • When someone says that, I hear "I don't know what I'm talking about with color management," and either teach them, or find a new printer. Ultimately, they should be telling you to either leave them in RGB, or convert to their specific printing equipment's CMYK profile. Once it's converted to their profile, it doesn't really matter whether the profile's embedded or not, the color is the same either way. But I can't think of a reason that leaving a profile embedded would hurt.
    – digijim
    Jun 25, 2015 at 18:20

You need to use a color profile at some point.

Convert your image from rgb to cmyk in photoshop using the proper color profile settings depending on paper and part of the world you live in.

You can save it directly from photoshop to pdf.

Just not embed it into the pdf file turning off the icc color profile.

In my opinion the printer guy has no idea what the profiles are for. Ask for a calibrated sample of the colors before you do the job. They are asking to drop an important part of color information.

  • I don't want to go direct from Photoshop->PDF... the bitmap is just one element in my Illustrator document
    – Anentropic
    Jun 25, 2015 at 17:09
  • The same applies for ilustrator or Indesign. Just turn off the checkbox when exporting to pdf.
    – Rafael
    Jun 25, 2015 at 17:13

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.