I've just read What kind of black should I use when designing for CMYK print? and I'd like to ask if these considerations for a "nice" black when printing on fabric using a direct to garment (DTG) process.

Some printers ask for the designs to be in RGB colour mode, so does that mean I should primarily stick with RGB colours directly instead of having PS or Illustrator convert from CMYK to RGB?

There are also references like this one but I thought I would ask from some more designers for details, as I may be doing some print in the future as well.

Also, if you have the same design going for print, web, and fabric, do you have separate source files having the specific colour profiles?

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    And I know that one of the answers is "Print one and find out." Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 14:18

2 Answers 2


Direct to garment is a digital print. If you do not have the specific CMYK profiles it is recomended that you send the file in RGB with R0G0B0 values as black.

A lot of people think that a CMYK output is a must when sending to print. It is not. Sometimes you need to avoid it.

It is a must when sending it to a CMYK separation, like offset print or color selection silk print.

But on a digital output (unless you have total control on the rip) you need the rip decide the separation of colors. Some printers can use 6 inks, some use diferent color profiles, some will have some built in tweeks to make your print "pop", etc.

If you have the same design going for print, web, and fabric, do you have separate source files having the specific colour profiles?

Interesting one. Yes.

You should understand what a color profile is.

It is a series of "matrixes" to adjust colors depending on the conditions, to be printed or viewed. Ink types, brands and surface to be printed.

Coated paper, office paper, newspaper, cotton fabric, sinthetic fabric, silk print, offset print, sublimation, inkjet print. Japaneese inks, german inks, north american inks. Transparent inks, opaque inks. 6 color separations... a big etc.

So the answer is yes at some extent.

At least you need a sRGB rgb profile for web, or drop the profile completly. The CMYK profile is only to see the colors somehow similar to a print, but on an RGB file is not stored.

On a digital oputput you could use either Adobe 1998, ProPhoto RGB or sRGB.

On a real CMYK output you need at least a standard profile depending on your region and basic paper type. (Swop, Gracol, Fogra, Japan Standard)

  • The profile can be a matrix but it can also be a lookup table LUT or other formulations with or without a matrix. Some of which can be pretty complex.
    – joojaa
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 15:10
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    Yeap, A matrix in general terms, not in the mathematical definition :o)
    – Rafael
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 15:40
  • It seems it can get complicated if I've got different sizes + different substrates! At least I've convinced myself I like how 100%K looks for type on screen so I'll probably use it most of the time :) Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 18:51
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    Remember. K100% on screen is a simulation of what would that ink look using a RGB model. Use whatever you need. Just keep in mind what kind of black you need. K100%, R0G0B0, #000, #333, Rich black, etc.
    – Rafael
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 19:33

The idea of suing CMYK for print has to do with how 4 color offset printing works. It does not necessarily apply to all other kind of printing, there is nothing that states you could not use other color primaries in your print. Old school comics used this method so if they wanted red they printed red.

The benefit of printing with the primaries your printer uses is total control. Leaving the result to the color system is more error prone and it does not allow you to use colors that over exceed your RGB spectrum. However like Rafael points out sometimes you need to let the printer do the work, because you can not do a 7 color separation, and hope for the best.

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