Join David Blatner for an in-depth discussion in this video Work with CMYK images in Photoshop, part of InDesign: Color Management.
- Okay, so even though you want to use RGB images as much as possible, sooner or later you're bound to be working with a CMYK image in Photoshop, like this one. You can see that it's CMYK up here in the title bar. Now, I showed you how to properly convert RGB images to CMYK in an earlier chapter, when I talked about the convert to profile feature and using perceptual intent and stuff like that. And by now, you know that you're not just converting. You're actually targeting a specific CMYK output, like a printing press, or your Inkjet printer, or some output standard like GRACoL, or FOGRA or SWAP.
That sounds kind of like a breakfast cereal, doesn't it? GRACoL, FOGRA, or SWAP. Anyway, this image has already been targeted, and we can see where it has been targeted down here in the lower left corner. It's using something called ISO Uncoated Yellowish, whatever that is. If you don't see the profile down here, you'll have to click on this little triangle and click Document Profile. Now, this is super important, because this tells us that whoever converted this image had a very particular output in mind. And that output may not be what we're using.
In fact, that is one of the most common complaints that people have when working with CMYK images. They say, "The color that I see in Photoshop "doesn't match the colors on my InDesign page." And there are lots of reasons that can happen, but probably the most common is that the image was targeted to one CMYK, and your InDesign document is targeted to a different CMYK. Rememeber, the CMYK profile tells the software what the color looks like. It says cyan should look like this, magenta looks like this, and so on.
So, if you're using two different profiles, it makes sense that you're going to see the colors differently, right? Now, the very best thing you can do is go find the original RGB file for this image and just place that into InDesign. The second best option is to go find the original RGB file and reconvert it into CMYK using the same CMYK that you're using in InDesign. Now, that would result in better color all around, but what if you don't have the original RGB image? Well then, you're kind of stuck.
But you do have two choices. First, you could leave the image the way it is and just know that it's probably going to shift in color a little bit when you view it in InDesign, and in your final output. That's the easiest thing to do, and in many cases it'll probably be just fine. In fact, this is the way most people have been working with CMYK images for years, and maybe they don't even realize it. It's just the default way that Photoshop and InDesign work. Now, I have another document over here. This is another CMYK image, and this is definitely the thing we want to do for this kind of image.
This is a synthetic image, that is, it's obviously not a photograph. It was draw, right? And in this image, there are very specific CMYK values, like one for green and one for blue, and down here, this is 30% black, and it's really important that these colors keep those percentages. So we want those CMYK values to stay the same, even if they look a little bit different in InDesign or Print or whatever. We wouldn't want this 30% black to suddenly turn into a little bit black, a little bit magenta, maybe a little cyan and so on.
So in this case, we're just going to leave the profile alone. We're going to ignore it, and as you'll see later in the chapter, InDesign is going to ignore it too. It'll just pass those CMYK numbers through and it's all good. Nothing to worry about. But back here, in this image, this one's a little bit different. Here, maybe we've spent a ton of time getting the color just right, and we're using a color managed monitor. And we know that this is the color we want. Well, in that case, we need to manage it. We need to gracefully convert these same colors to the new output file, the one that we're using in InDesign.
Now, if I know what that final output profile is going to be, then I could just change that here in Photoshop. For example, let's say that I know that in InDesign I'm using the FOGRA39 Standard Profile for CMYK, because I know that I'm printing to coded stock on white paper. Great, all I need to do is go to the Edit menu, scroll down to Convert to Profile, and then choose that profile here in the destination space. I'll choose Coated FOGRA, the same one that I'm using in InDesign. Now, before I click OK, I do want to pay attention to the Intent popup menu.
Remember, I've talked about these intent choices in an earlier chapter, and in most cases when you're converting from one CMYK profile to another CMYK profile, and that's what we call cross-rendering, in most cases here you're going to want to use Relative Colorometric. That's the default. If you use Perceptual instead, it squeezes or stretches all the colors in the image into the new gamut, so you'll often get far bigger color changes, and that's usually not so good. So I'll choose that, and I'm going to hit OK. And now you'll see it looks pretty much the same, but I know that because the CMYK document profile here in Photoshop matches the document profile in InDesign, now the color is going to look the same when I place the image on my InDesign page.
But of course, before I get it to InDesign I need to save it, right? So, I'll go to the File menu and I'll choose Save As. And now, I need to choose a format. I talk about formats in my title InDesign Insider Training: Working With Photoshop and Illustrator. I'll just choose Photoshop, and then I have a choice down here. Yes, another choice. I have a choice of whether to embed the CMYK profile inside this document. Now, you would think that this would be a no-brainer, and you would always want to have that turned on, right? Well, as it turns out, when it comes to CMYK images, it's not always cut and dry.
As you'll see later in this chapter, embedding the profile does not mean that InDesign is going to see it or use it, and in this case, because the document profile here in Photoshop now matches the one that I'm using in InDesign, it doesn't actually matter if I embed the profile. Now, maybe if there's a chance that I'm going to come back and do more edits in Photoshop, then embedding the profile might be a good idea. But in most cases, I just don't embed CMYK profiles, because it turns out that embedding a CMYK profile usually adds about a megabyte to the file size, and sometimes that matters, especially if you're working with hundreds of images, or if your images are just small to start with.
So, again if you've done all this work to match up the profiles, then there's no reason to embed the profile here. Same thing goes with that other image we were looking at, the synthetic image. In that case, I would not want to embed the profile. But before we move on, I want to point out that this only works if you know what that final profile's going to be. The one that you're using in InDesign. In many cases, you don't know. For example, sometimes the person doing the Photoshop work has no idea what the final output is going to be in InDesign, right? So they can't do this Convert to Profile thing in Photoshop.
But that's okay, because the good news is that InDesign can do the conversion for you. I'm going to go ahead and click cancel here, and I"m going to undo the change I made that Convert to Profile. Now we're back to that old ISO Uncoated Yellowish profile. So again, say that I'm the Photoshop user editing this file, and I've done all this color work. And it looks just right, and now I'm sending it to you to put in your InDesign document. If I care about the colors in this document, then it's critical that I tell you which CMYK profile I used, because remember, the profile gives the colors meaning.
Without that profile, InDesign just has to guess what the colors should look like in the image. So in this case, I'm going to go to the File menu, choose Save As, and then come down here, and I want to make sure this check box is turned on. Because again, I need to convey this information to InDesign but, and here's the thing that most people don't realize, if you do embed the CMYK profile, and you really want your color to be honored in that final output, then you also need to tell whoever's using InDesign that the profile is embedded, and it should be used.
So, one way to do that would be to actually put it in the file name. Like, I'll come up here and I'll add _UseEmbeddedProfile right there into the name. That's pretty clear, right? Now I can come down and click the Save button. So, we've now saved this CMYK color managed image with a profile in it, and that's great. But, as I've said before, InDesign is just going to ignore that profile unless you or the InDesign user specifically tell it to honor it, and I'll talk about how to do that later on in this chapter.
But first, I need to talk about how your colors work inside Adobe Illustrator files.
- Understanding gamut and out-of-gamut color
- Creating great color profiles
- Working in InDesign's transparency blend space
- Using sRGB color settings
- Dealing with profile and policy mismatches
- Preparing RGB and CMYK images
- Importing images in InDesign
- Proofing design on screen
- Printing documents
- Exporting PDF files