Something bemusing me: I've been using photoshop for ten years now (admittedly much more in RGB than CMYK), and today a brand new never-before-seen problem presented itself to me.

I'm working in CMYK, grabbing colours from the colour picker, but I can't get a bright enough green for my liking. It turns out the document keeps "correcting" my bright, popping greens into these sludge-toned filth-swatches in the name of keeping within the printable gamut.

I have no qualms with respecting the limits of an ink cartridge's capabilities, but is there a way to tell colour picker to only show me the options I have? Frankly, I thought that's what part of working in CMYK was for. Now I'm having to randomly choose shades of green hoping the printable gamut won't have beef with them. So far no luck.

Any help appreciated. I'm using CC 2015.

  • Are you working towards print by which I mean professional print rather than an office inkjet? If the former invest in a Pantone to process book which allows you to choose a strcit oanton Dec 19, 2016 at 14:46
  • Opps hit the return button! Are you working towards print by which I mean professional print rather than an office inkjet? If the former, invest in a Pantone to process book which allows you to choose a strict Pantone ink (the printer will then use) and / or the nearest CMYK equivalent which in many cases will be adequate (and cheaper). This is my go to approach for difficult colours like bright green or orange - orange in particular will generally be a pantone to get a bright citrus colour. Dec 19, 2016 at 14:54
  • If your working for screen its kind of moot as every screen will display differently to yours however you set up your file. If you working to print on an office jet (3,4 6 colour inks it doesn't matter) its really trial and error. I normally print a reference sheet out when I get a new inkjet and then choose the value closest to the final colour I want - as said, then ignore what it looks like in Photoshop. Sometimes you just have to trust the output but you can always test print this right? Dec 19, 2016 at 14:54
  • I'm printing with a professional printer, although I have to admit I'm inexperienced with this and know much more about web colour than print colour. What do I need to do to get on with a Pantone to process book and what is it? A physical book that will give me CMYK numbers for swatches? Do I need to ask my printers if they have a certain grade of printer? Thanks for the help.
    – Wilf
    Dec 20, 2016 at 15:19
  • Cheeky follow up question: what's your view on cheaper alternatives like this? amazon.co.uk/HKS-21010-swatches-K/dp/B000A0K2N0/…
    – Wilf
    Dec 20, 2016 at 15:31

2 Answers 2


Go to View > Gamut Warning (or hit Command-Shift-Y) to turn on the Gamut Warning feature. This will 'grey out' colours that are not available in the current gamut. Command-Shift-Y will also toggle this on/off while in the colour picker.

Photoshop CMYK color picker

You can change the colour and opacity of the greying out effect in Photoshop > Preferences > Transparency & Gamut...

  • How do show the gamut warning in the color picker? If I am in CMYK or RGB color mode and have Gamut warning on I do not see this in the color picker, I only see the gamut warning on the canvas.
    – AndrewH
    Dec 13, 2016 at 15:53
  • 1
    Command-Shift-Y (or I'm guessing Control-Shift-Y if you're on a PC?) will toggle this on/off while in the colour picker.
    – Westside
    Dec 13, 2016 at 15:56
  • 3
    I am not a smart man, I kept hitting the wrong key....
    – AndrewH
    Dec 13, 2016 at 15:59

Probably your color printer is CMYK. Therefore, any color you choose as CMYK values is within gamut.

Some CMYK colors (especially bright popping greens!) look awful on monitors (which display color as illuminated RGB values).

Print samples of different greens on your printer, and choose a green from the printed samples. Don't worry about what it looks like on the monitor.

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