So I've recently got an image that I'm trying to get printed to a good standard. I've started reading into printing methods and its a very confusing mine field. (CMYK, RGB, matt, glossy, acrylic etc) I'm in way over my head.

Anyway i've been told that my picture is based in RGB colours but the industry standard is CMYK. I converted my poster to CMYK and got it printed, but I'm not entirely happy with the results. I'm fully aware that the full spectrum of RGB can't be printed in CMYK and it may look different on my screen than what is printed in real life. But my print still looks so dull and lifeless.

I have some posters in my room that I bought that are bright, vivid and would be happy with their colour style. I've been trying to find out myself but its very confusing without anyone to ask or even physical copies to look at.

I emailed a high end company and they recommended "Original photo print under acrylic glass". Does anyone here have any advice on what I should go for? I want the highest quality wall hanging poster. If you were to get something printed to hang on your wall what printing style is the best?


I'm looking to get a poster printed, what's the best method of printing for detail/looks for wall hanging?

Thanks! Tom

  • It seems to me you are asking two different things. CMYK and RGB after ways of describing color, but matt and glossy are finishes, whereas acrilic and glass are materials. For instance, you could have a photo in CMYK printed on glossy paper and then put it in a glass frame.
    – PieBie
    Apr 25, 2016 at 21:57

2 Answers 2


First of all. Some definitions, here is a similar question with a small explanation on diferent options. It is not carved in stone, but it could help you with some terminology. https://photo.stackexchange.com/questions/75865/which-print-medium-has-the-highest-dynamic-range/76016#76016

In your specific case.

1) You should not convert a picture from RGB to CMYK unless you have the specific profile for the output medium.

2) In general terms, you should only convert a file from RGB to CMYK for comercial print. This is if you are sending something to be printed on a magazine, flyer, etc, more specific in offset printing.

So as a client for a one time poster it is better that you leave your RGB file as RGB. The conversion will be made on the specific machine or system they are using.

3) You need to ask for some phisical samples. How it looks, how resistant the material is, how long the ink will last.

4) Glossy or matt will make a diference if you have a window in front of the wall you are hanging the poster. The same if you put a glass on the frame.

Personally I would carry a usb with a smaller version of my poster, ask for a small print like 4x and compare the products. This can be a matter of taste and price range.

If after looking at the sample prints they still look dull, probaby it is time to tweek them in photoshop and saturate them a bit. To save time you can prepare this smaller versions with different saturation levels.

0-Original-file.jpg, 1-Saturated10.jpg, 2-Saturation20.jpg

Or prepare a file with diferent zones with diferent saturations on each zone.

If the bureau you choose, have a very well calibrated monitor they probably can show you the results there before printing anything.


Converting a RGB image to CMYK will almost always result in dull, muddy colours, as they'll be made up of a combination of two, three or even four inks. Some consumer printers print with six inks (CcMmYK) and can achieve more vibrant colours, but they still won't match your screen output. As a general rule, I try to use two inks per colour, three at the most. This is easy enough when you're designing something in vector where you're dealing with flat shapes or text, but when working with photography it becomes a bit more difficult. Converting images for print is a profession in itself – just ask a newspaper.

The high-end company you mention is right – if you treat the image as a photo and print it by photographic means, you can actually reproduce something very close to the RGB spectrum. This is because you're not dealing with ink; it's a chemical reaction to light.

I would suggest you contact your local professional photo lab and see what they can do. Otherwise, you may need to get someone to 'enhance' your image for CMYK print.

  • Thank you Alex! i had no idea how complex printing was until the last few days. I'm quite surprised that printing technology is still at the point where images can't be copied "properly" i will take your advice and move away from ink printing. In a quick google search do you think acrylic printing or photo print would be the best route to follow
    – Tom
    Apr 25, 2016 at 22:18
  • Hey Tom. An acrylic print is simply a photo mounted behind a sheet of clear acrylic (they can 'print' the image directly onto the acrylic too). It would probably depend on the printing process involved, but I'd say a photographic print mounted behind acrylic would look fantastic.
    – Alex
    Apr 25, 2016 at 22:27
  • Ahh i see. It really is a minefield when you are not familiar with these terms, thanks. Sometimes just asking someone rather than trying to find out yourself online is much easier
    – Tom
    Apr 25, 2016 at 22:42

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