I´m having a serious problem with RGB to CMYK conversion on my artwork. I create all my artwork in photoshop, using images of scanned fabrics to make collages. Most of my files have many layers. Up until now I´ve been designing for web and video, so all the artwork I have is in RGB. Now we want to publish printed picture books using the artwork featured in our videos, but I´m running into serious problems with the RGB to CMYK conversion. The first book has a lot of night scenes, and hence a lot of different blues, and the converted CMYK files are just a mess. Totally washed out. I´ve spent hours and hours trying to find a solution, playing with adjustment layers, selective colour correction, hue and saturation - you name it, but it still looks terrible. I have seen printed books with very acceptable depths and shades of blue. I know it´s not possible to get an exact match between RGB and CMYK, but I cannot get anywhere close to reproducing something that looks decent in the proof colours view of photoshop. I´m wondering how print houses deal with scanned artwork for books? Any help and advice would be much appreciated!

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    Hi Sarah, Welcome to graphicdesign.stackexchange. This is a recurring question. Do check the related questions and answers for additional information. – Stan Aug 20 '17 at 16:47

RGB-to-CMYK Conversion

Many of designers ask, "Should I send images to my service provider in the RGB or CMYK colour space?" In the past, the service provider would always request that the designer convert images to CMYK before sending them off to the printshop. This is not the best choice for a few important reasons. First, you will get much better results if you colour-correct images in the RGB colour space. This is because the CMYK colour space has a much smaller colour gamut; simply stated, you have fewer colours to work with when correcting images in CMYK.

Second, converting images from the RGB to CMYK colour space is more than just a mode change in PhotoShop. When converting to CMYK, considerations are made for dot gain, inks, and substrate. If your service provider insists on CMYK images, or you do not know where the job will be printed, the best option to use is U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2. Go to Edit>Color Settings in PhotoShop, Then under the Working Spaces section, choose U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2 from the pull-down menu.

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  • Thanks, for that Stan. I´m looking around at different printshops so I'll find out from each one what they require. From the research I did online it seemed that I needed to convert to CMYK, but if that´s not necessary and best left to the service provider then all the better! – Sarah Aug 20 '17 at 17:40

Certain printers will allow you to send them the files to convert using their RIP software (that gets it ready for the printers). Sometimes this can produce better results than a standard conversion in Photoshop.

Have you tried talking to your printer about this issue?

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  • Thanks for the reply. I´ll get on to them and see what they suggest. – Sarah Aug 20 '17 at 17:32

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