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I've designed my first business card and I'm trying to print it via Moo. I designed the card in Photoshop in RGB and Moo is requiring me to save in CMYK. CMYK does not support the colors I've chosen for my design. From what I've seen online there are no solutions or (acceptable) alternatives to this problem. It seems hard to believe that Moo is unable to print in the colors I've selected for my business card. Is there a way around this? What are my options?

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    No it's not hard to believe. You should in fact read about how to prepare print-ready design on this site, you will learn a lot and avoid lot of mistakes too. Next time you design something that goes for printing, put your color mode already in CMYK; this way you won't be disappointed. You'll need to get mentally prepared to lose your bright colors and accept the reality of CMYK.... but 99.99% of what you see printed is in CMYK and as Moo requires it; it will still look very nice, don't worry! graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/57864/… – go-junta Sep 11 '15 at 2:20
  • For reference, here's a diagram that shows various color spaces: lh6.googleusercontent.com/… – Logarr Sep 11 '15 at 9:08
  • My experience is to the contrary, I created a card design with black background. On it, I added a small image with black background and I left the image in RGB. The result was the image had darker blacks than the rich black they used for the background. They advised me that in the future I should design the entire card and drop it in as one full image including the card background color, black. I walked into their shop and talked with a very helpful support person, but you may not live in a city where they have a plant. My full experience: keptlight.com/moo-no-not-that-one – user45605 Sep 11 '15 at 12:47
  • you can redesign the card in CMYK mode and try to match the colors. – Stanley VM Sep 11 '15 at 17:51
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There is no way to print RGB colors in CYMK simply because you can't 'print' RGB, as it's a projected light color space, not a reflective light (ie, ink) color space. Many colors overlap in RGB and CMYK spaces, but not all, as you've found out.

You can use spot colors to print more colors that CMYK can provide--which can get you closer to what you might want, but then you need to find a printer who can print in spot colors for you. I'm not sure if Moo offers that as an option.

  • No, unfortunately they don't. support.moo.com/hc/en-us/articles/… But at least Moo isn't the only one anymore offering these thick cards and besides their shinny cute card box à-la-Apple, they're not special for quality. – go-junta Sep 11 '15 at 2:28
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Options:

  • Convert your art to CMYK and print it as-is.

  • Convert your art to CMYK, and manually adjust the values to increase their vibrancy. (RGB to CMYK conversion can make things look muddy, especially those bright blues). If you're in photoshop, you can try a few different Adjustment Layers to get the colors closer to where you want it. Color Balance and Levels would be a good place to start.

Places that accept RGB files online for print (many do), go through their own CMYK conversion process before sending something to press. At least if you manually tweak your colors, you'll have control over how your out-of-gamut values are handled.

Are your results going to look just like your RGB version? No. Some colors that you see on the screen just cannot be printed with CMYK ink.

  • Also, when designing CMYK and working on screen, you are looking at a back-conversion to RGB because the screen is as unable to display CMYK 100% correctly as printers can produce RGB 100% correctly ... – Hagen von Eitzen Sep 11 '15 at 16:41
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No I'm afraid there's no way around this. It would be extremely lucrative if you could do this, so if you ever discover how to do this its worth millions of dollars easily, if not hundreds of millions.

Color is actually a considerably more complicated problem than it initially appears. Even RGB isn't same on different devices, although we are moving slowly to a close to full sRGB on all devices. Although since most users haven't calibrated their devices its not really useful.

The key ingredient of colors is that each device has a different gamut, color space as to speak. If we look at a chromaticity graph, you'll notice that sRGB is much bigger than the respective FOGRA space. Note that the chromacity graph at is considerably harder to understand than is readily apparent. The outer shape represents human vision sensitivity. What you actually see is a slice of a 3D diagram, also the virtual colors in the magenta spectrum have a nice kink to them.

Color space

Image 1: A sample CIE31 chromaticity graph showing the spaces in one intensity slice.

Note that there are colors that are possible in CMYK, not in RGB and other way around. This is something you should be aware of. You can get colors outside of CMYK printed but bulk services wont like MOO won't do this for you as it requires custom print runs. In any case no printed color can be as bright as monitor colors without having led lights installed in your business card, simply because ink does not glow.

Another problem is that there are no suitable inks in certain ranges. More importantly if you want to use a limited set of pigments its not possible to do all colors. It would be possible to grow the gamut considerably if you could afford to print with 7 or 50 different pigments, you still wouldn't reach sRGB in all places though. MOO is just a bulk producer so they won't let you do this.

A second dimension in problem is that colors look different next to certain other colors. So you can get the exact same response even if the colors aren't exactly the same, this mostly works out well for photographic image data.

NOTES:

  • Important to remember that the color numbers in RGB don't mean anything unless you say what RGB space your talking about. So is it sRGB or Adobe RGB or what?

  • What you see on your monitor is meaningless, in any form of accuracy, unless you have a color profile of that individual monitor. Alternatively the monitor has been calibrated to a preexisting space. In reality yo would need both.

  • Note there's huge areas of color that can not be done in either CMYK print or with RGB color. Such as the bright orange flash you get when you burn table salt in a open flame.

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I will be a little harsh here. No offense meant. I'll explain why I'm picky answering this question.

I've designed my first business card. I designed the card in Photoshop in RGB

Yes, you designed your first business card and you made your first mistake.

and Moo is requiring me to save in CMYK. CMYK does not support the colors I've chosen for my design.

Every printer on this planet will do that same thing.

From what I've seen online there are no solutions or (acceptable) alternatives

I'm sorry the one that did not prepare things right was you, so the one who needs to (accept) the reality is you.

What are my options?

1) Your real option is to make a test print and be comfortable with the output.

I could recommend that you make things in CMYK and so... But no. You can not print some colors.

There are some special inks like fluorescent ones. But to prepare that would be to make all again as you should have done from, the beginning, in vectors, and with spot colors, and imagining the results. But that is more complex inclusive than the CMYK model.

I'm picky with this question for a reason:

If you are a designer, this is a very basic thing to know. If you are not a designer, that is one reason you should hire a designer in the first place.

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    Im not sure you need be this harsh. Im sure your naive in some other areas of knowledge too. But at least you don't sugarcoat this. Knowing what real world print constrains exist is indeed heart of the matter. – joojaa Sep 11 '15 at 9:27
  • The lack of understanding about color spaces and printing methods, by many who are working in this field, is quite surprising. Just an observation. Learning the constraints of a particular production area is always important, and often, creativity is not exercising a vivid imagination, it's overcoming or even leveraging limitations. – user8356 Nov 28 '16 at 20:44
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Having looked at your card, you shouldn't really have too much of a problem converting your chosen colours to CMYK and then adjusting them to your liking. Those blue/aqua tones should hold up in the CMYK colour space fairly well (I've found it's oranges that really suffer in CMYK). If you want to get really fussy you could opt for a two colour job and pick a couple of Pantones instead. Those fresh looking 'minty' colours work especially well as Pantones. If a job is colour critical ask for proofs.

One issue I would point out is that if you're going to have a business card declaring your self a graphic design, it behoves you to understand the print process better. Get yourself a Pantone Bridge book and select your colours from there. If you're working for print, you have to think about print from the start. I can't count the number of times I've had conversations with designers who have absolutely no concept of how print works and end up disappointed that they can't get 'what they see on screen' or else supply files that are completely unusable.

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