on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Converting to CMYK

Navigating the Minefield of Litho Printing

Tim Parkin

Tim Parkin

Amateur Photographer who plays with big cameras and film when in between digital photographs.

Flickr, Facebook, Twitter

Given the fact that the first time people most people encounter CMYK conversions is when they’re spending a lot of money, you can understand why people get worried. The process has many confusing aspects, e.g., rendering intents, not using 100% black and white, maximum ink levels, hue shifts for bold colours, getting the right CMYK icc profile, etc., but at heart, it needn’t be overly complicated. In this article, I’ll try to review all the aspects of CMYK that you may encounter when litho-printing books, cards, calendars, etc.

First of all, why do we need to convert at all? Well there is a big difference between the colours that can be represented on a good colour monitor and those that can be represented by applying cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks to a peice of paper. The colours that a monitor can display can be a lot more vibrant. Wikipedia has an image that shows just how different that can be. And this example is sRGB; AdobeRGB and ProPhotoRGB will show even bigger difference1

Rgb And Cmyk Comparison

You can see this difference on a CIE graph. AdobeRGB and ProPhoto are so much bigger than CMYK.


This is a premium article and requires a paid subscription to access. Please take a look at the subscribe page for more information on prices.

On Landscape is part of Landscape Media Limited , a company registered in England and Wales . Registered Number: 07120795. Registered Office: 1, Clarke Hall Farm, Aberford Road, WF1 4AL. Midge Specs, midge net glasses from the Highlands.