A Question About CMYK

Hello Everyone,
Sorry for the newb question.

I’m doing a “wall picture” design in a CMYK colorspace in Affinity Photo.
Its 24 x 36 inches. I plan on having the finished product printed at places
like Staples and Fed Ex Kinkos. Offset Printers.

Well…I wanted to import and use a “reference” picture for comparison
purposes as i’m working. I wanted to compare my brightness and color levels
with a reference picture. Make sure i’m in the ballpark.

Whats the best way to reference my CMYK design
as i’m working in Affinity Photo?

Can i bring in any image off Google Images and use it
just as long as i change that images profile into CMYK?

Should i buy an actual wall picture design
like, say from Shutterstock and use that to reference from
and convert its profile to CMYK?

How should i go about accurately referencing a CMYK project?

Thanks everyone.

You need to make sure that your monitor is calibrated correctly, do your work and have the print shop print out a proof of the piece because that’s the only way your going to know if what your seeing on the screen is a reasonale facsimile of the final CMYK output. Why are you getting it printed at different places?

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Thanks for responding Designia,
I’m having it printed at different places…because the piece is going to be for sale online.
I was thinking since its going to be available to everyone in the U.S. i better give
them the option of printing at places like Staples or Fed Ex Kinkos. Is that the right
way to go? Or should i instruct buyers just to go to 1 particular place? Also my monitor
is factory calibrated 98% sRGB.

Your conflicting statements make little sense. Will you be printing this to sell hardcopies, or will you be selling digital images for people to download and print themselves?

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Sorry for the confusing words Just-B.
I’ll be making it available to people as a digital download. Then from there…they’ll have
to take it to places like Staples or Fed Ex Kinkos.

OK. If that’s the case, leave it in RGB. The end users will likely be using digital printing to print one or two copies, so RGB is most appropriate. Digital printing can make use of the larger color space in RGB.

If the end user wants to print large quantities, CMYK would be appropriate. However, that’s something for the end user to decide since the conversion will depend on a number of variables, such as paper stock. So again, leave it in RGB.

If your display is as accurate as you suggest, there’s no need for a “reference” image. Besides, there’s no way you’ll know whether or not your reference image is accurate either. Even images downloaded from a stock site, such as Shutterstock, typically need to be toned a bit for the job at hand.

Thank you Just-B.

So you suggest that i should come out of the current color format
that the design is in now (CMYK) and convert everything
to RGB?

Also…one last thing.

When its time for me to export the file…Affinity Photo gives me
a couple of “rgb” color profile options. Which version would you
recommend that the “customer” receives to take to the store for print.
sRGB, Adobe RGB or Colormatch RGB.

Again…thanks for your help.

Is this a thing?
Offering ‘wall art’ digital files online where the purchaser can do whatever they want with it? Isn’t that like saying, “Here take my art and make money with it.”?
I mean, I suppose all stock art is that, but there are limits to what you can do with a stock image based on the licensing involved.

The only real reference I ever see in stock art, and it’s higher end art reproduction stuff like you see on ArtRes, they will have a real Kodak color/gray bar somewhere in the image. This gives us our reference when printing to get it close to real when doing repro prints. Sounds like what you are doing is not quite as intense. And quite honestly? Kinkos or Fedex wouldn’t know what a color bar is or how to correct color with it. Your art is at the mercy of the machine tech who is quite often an unskilled, low-wage hire.

I’d do it in RGB. Then I’d print it to a higher end desktop inkjet. That pretty much will represent what it will look like at a push-the-button kinkos or whatever. Not a plug, I use an Espon Artisan photo printer when I want to check quickly what something will look like before it hits a press. It’s a fairly reasonable facsimile. Not color accurate by any means, but it will tell you if your colors are way out of whack. A desktop printer driver is made to auto-convert RGB images to their CMYK inksets, in a consumer-friendly sort of way, that is similar to the profiling a pro printer would do to the media they are printing on.


You gave me “much” to think about.
Enlightening and scary stuff…at the same time.
Thank you for the knowledge. It was infomative.

One last thing. Your suggesting that i redo the art in RGB format right?
Also what “color profile” would you recommend? sRGB? Adobe RGB?

Once again…Thanks for takin’ the time.

Yes, convert your image to RGB and work on it in that color space. Also, distribute it in RGB. If an end-user needs CMYK for offset printing, that person will know enough to do the CMYK conversion. Stock photos are always distributed in RGB.

More important is the format you’ll use to distribute the image. Will you be using JPEG?

As for sRGB or Adobe RGB, Adobe RGB is arguably better. Photographers like it because of its wide color gamut and color intensity. However, given the two choices in your situation, I’d still use sRGB because it’s something of a standard, and you’ll be distributing your image to random people with varying abilities. Honestly, though, it might not matter that much. Pick the one you think looks best. If you can’t tell the difference, use sRGB — just to keep things safe and simple.

A horrid thing.


Etsy is ok. I’ve gotten some cool and remarkably well-made steampunk stuff on Etsy.
But even as a printer, I don’t download stuff to self-print, get framed, and put on my wall. Too much work. I have three poster prints I bought already printed, still in tubes waiting for frames that never seem to happen. Kinda like the carpenter whose house is falling apart.

Same here. I have a signed, limited-edition poster that I love. However, getting it framed in the way I want would set me back three- or four hundred dollars, so in the tube it stays.

As for Etsy, I ordered a collar and tags for our dog. The quality of both was absolutely top-notch. That’s not to say there’s not also junk to be found there. It’s a buyer-beware sort of thing.

I’ve gotten some very good digital downloads for scrapbook paper off Etsy. I use it in my bookmaking adventures. It’s great quality and prints lovely with my printer. For what I do it works and it’s soooo much cheaper than what they want for books of paper at the craft stores. I can also pick out just what I want without feeling rushed. So that type of digital download is fantastic as far as I’m concerned. I’m not sure how cost effective it would be if I needed something large printed though. There is no way the average home printer could do that.

…and speaking of which I just finished a little album I made with said papers :wink: It turned out lovely :slight_smile:

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You’ve been given very good advice so far.

As others are taking this away to be printed, leaving it untouched in the original color format (RGB) would be best.

Even the exact same file printed from 2 different printing machines (professional) will have different variations in colour.

The only way to control it would be to supply a colour sample of the expected outcome to the printers.

Your screen colour (even if calibrated) is not going to match any printing output unless it’s calibrated to that output device (printer).

And there’s no way you can guarantee that your files downloaded to different peoples computers will have the same colour.

I have 2 monitors setup - and the colours look different when moving from one screen to the other.

Even though my work is colour critical - it doesn’t matter what it looks like on the screen - as long as the colour values are ok on output.

So I don’t even bother calibrating the monitors - as the artwork goes to different printing presses in different parts of the world.

Thank You Just-B.
You’ve been “very” helpful. All your advice and tips really cleared ALOT
of confusion. God bless you…keep your head up.

Concerning Google Images, you CANNOT use just any image for resell. You CAN do a Google Image ADVANCED search then ONLY using their “USAGE RIGHTS” selection box to insure you are using a copyright free or copyright license image. Personally, my practice was to always buy licensed images from ShutterStock or iStockPhoto, etc. That way, I always knew I was protected against very costly copyright violations.

Just-B is right about this—a printed proof is always a necessity. An image viewed on a computer screen will always look different when printed (some differences more, others less.) That is because on a computer screen, you are seeing a backlighted image, eg. an image created with Light. Printed images are created with ink, eg. a reflected light image. These are totally different methods of viewing images. So, because the final wall hanging is a printed image, therefore you have to have a printed proof.