I'm a photographer and I recently shot a food cook book. We did over 100+ shots. The client asked me for CYMK files with a specific colour profile. We processed them as CYMK and my assistant spent a day or two doing colour adjustments and retouching bits and bobs on PS. I ended up paying for this out of my pocket as I don't like what they in house retouchers do to my colours.

Now the book has gone to repro and now they have decided that actually they need RGB files. They also won't say why despite me asking several times. Its the art director asking me on behalf of repro, so I don't think she knows why and just won't find out. I cannot fathom why this would be?

I'm planning to use the finished CYMK files & change the colour space to RGB in photoshop. I can't see any visible difference to the eye, my monitor is calibrated and they look great to me.

It all seems totally pointless as they will be converted back to the original profile & printed in CYMK anyway... Heavens knows why they asked for CYMK in the first place.

Do you think this will be okay and would the client be able to tell them that they have been converted back?

Any advice would be much appreciated.

2 Answers 2


This is certainly an odd request, but the most likely explanation is that there is something that the printer doesn't like about your RGB to CMYK conversion so they want to do it themselves. This could be profile related, GCR, UCR, TAC limit, etc. They may think that they are doing you a favour or being polite.

Converting the CMYK files back to RGB is probably OK, but I would be inclined to go back to the original RGB images that you started with and supply them to the printer (after some tweaks if needed). The less processing that the image has been through, the better. Either way, I would suggest that a new proof would be required for sign off before going to print because the images may well look a little different.

  • Thanks for this.. kind of wanted to avoid doing this so that I wouldn't have to get them retouched again! Next time I will make sure we retouch in RGB. Nov 19, 2016 at 16:01

I will just complement Chris answer.

Retouching should never be done in CMYK*. RGB to CMYK should be the last step in a process.

Converting a CMYK to RGB will never be the same as the original RGB files. The color space is already sqhashed so you will have a dull copy of an RGB file.

RGB file

The same RGB file after converted to CMYK and converted back to RGB.

*There is a process for correcting skin tones given some CMY values. This correction aslo should be done with the file in RGB mode, but reading the color values as it's equivalent to CMYK.

  • out of the corner of my eye it seems like the cubes are rotating clockwise @_@ Cool illustration! Nov 19, 2016 at 20:56

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.