CMYK or RGB?
I’ve always wanted to become an illustrator, but after art school, I became involved in graphic design and the printing industry and those dreams were put on the back burner. But now I’m working on my art skills.
Given my work background, I’m curious how the pros approach choosing a colour space to work in. I know that significant colour shifts can occur when converting from RGB to CMYK for printing. Do most artists work in RGB and chance the conversion? Work in RGB and convert themselves before submission? Work in CMYK from the start? And what’s the best way to ensure what the artist sees on their monitor or tablet is the same as what’s seen by the art director or publisher? Harry Searcy, via email Claire replies Hello Harry, nice question! Artists generally work in RGB because it has a larger colour gamut compared to CMYK. Monitors are RGB, too, so what you see is what you get. Keeping your files RGB enables you to use all Photoshop filters, which you can’t do in CMYK mode. And RGB files are smaller in size, so they’re easier to manage.
Clients might want to use a particular CMYK colour profile in their product, so it’s best to send them an RGB image to ensure a better conversion. Keeping your image as an RGB file will also mean that it’ll be ready for the web.
Photoshop’s Proof Colors tool gives you a rough idea of how your RGB file will look before converting to CMYK. This demonstrates the shift in colour, yet still enables you to modify your RGB file.
As you’ve said, everyone has different monitors/hardware, colour profiles and room lighting conditions, so no two images would look the same on different computers. One solution would be to calibrate every device in the production chain for visual consistency, but this would take a fair bit of time!