RGB to CMYK = awful colors for biz cards?

RJ California

New Member
I am converting some RGB built files to cmyk for printing (4 Over).
I am always surprised at the huge difference in vibrancy between RGB and cmyk. This file calls for a real bright kiwi type green and a bright blue.

2 dumb questions---

Are there any business card/postcard printers that print in rgb?

Does Photoshop (CS2) have a cmyk color chart that you can design with and choose from? It seems all the colors look great in the Photoshop swatches, until you drag or drop the color into the open CMYK file. Only then do you see how muddy and lifeless it is.

I've attached the both the rgb and cmyk versions. Any ideas on how I can get dull cmyk to print more like the vibrant RGB?


  • blue-green-cmyk.jpg
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  • blue-green-rgb-to-cmyk.jpg
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New Member
Your colors won't work on an offset press with process work. Your colors are as bright as they can print… 100 of C 79M… the green about the same. They can't print more than 100% of any color, especially in a gang run. If you have a local source, we have put in flourescent colors on a job to brighten them and it adds density, like 20% Flourescent blue (Cyan) Ink and 30% yellow ink. Yellow is a far weaker color.

But you will pay.

Joe Diaz

When I'm sending something to print. And the design is RGB and includes those vibrant RGB colors. I simply export the file as an RGB raster image and send that. It's kind of a shot in the dark this way, because you can't be certain exactly how your colors will turn out, but I've found that it is the case with CMYK as well. When are you ever sure?

Anyway, when I send RGB raster images, I've found that they turn out pretty close to the colors I had in mind when they are delivered. But you can get vary close to that bright green and blue color. I know from experience.


New Member
Joe, you then become completely dependent upon your print production person, and if they have their setting "SWOP" its gonna get ugly. RIPs generally have a difficult time with bright blues, because its out of the gamut of Cyan. Why it is, is because of the weakness of the cyan plate, which means when you have highlights its 5C 3M 3Y=neuteral. also in shadows 80C 70M 70Y makes neuteral. When you make a beautful blue in 100C 100M it comes out purple, that is why, the Cyan is weak!

Hey Joe, do you recall how those cards your thinking of got printed? (Process or Spot or both). I can get close in spots, but process is another ball of wax. on the press I work on (Indigo 5000) I can boost any color past 100% so I can acheieve a lot of colors that regular offset cannot, but it only works a 50% and 100+% dots/coverage.


New Member
If in Photoshop, save as a PDF and let the engine convert the colors. Open that file in Photoshop and you will see that the file is CMYK, but the colors have maintained their pop.

I dunno why, but I use that quite a bit if I need to hit a bright color and the cmyk conversion goes flat.

Biker Scout

New Member
It's best to have a PMS CMYK Color Chart. Shows most color combinations made entirely out of those 4 colors. At least that way you can show your customers ahead of time and helps you calibrate your printer. Something to check against.

Keep in mind that many outsourced print houses have 6 color presses, and print in what's called Hexachrome Color Palettes. It's a wider color gamut than CMYK. This is evident when you send off an RGB file, and the printed piece looks pretty darn close. You should find out from whomever does your printing. Wouldn't hurt to have a Hexachrome Swatch Book in your collection either.

Even Tintbooks is a valuable tool to have.


New Member
4over has this new(?) print engine driver download - i had a green VERY similar to the one you've got up there and had the same concern - i just got the cards back yesterday and they're perfect - i cant say for what reason though

Joe Diaz

Joe, you then become completely dependent upon your print production person...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't you pretty much always dependent upon your print production person, no matter what process you use??? The original post is about trying to get those RGB colors to work. My best advice is to send the artwork over as an RGB raster. It hasn't failed us yet. Chances are it won't be exactly what you are seeing on the screen, but it is much closer then sending the file as CMYK. And definitely close enough for a business card.

If you need to match colors exactly, then use a PMS color chart from the start. But I don't think that is what the OP is asking and even then you are still dependent on whether or not the printer gets it rignt.

Also, Every printer we have ever used, gives you the option of having a proof printed first, so that you can be absolutely certain. One could do that. Better yet, if you want to see how your RGB colors will turn out when your printer prints them, like if you have one printer that you like the most. Export your color chart as an RGB file and have the printer print that and use that as a guide for picking out your RGB colors.

Keep in mind, these are just solutions on how to get your RGB colors to work for you. if you are like me and like the RGB Colors better.:thumb:

:goodpost: I totally agree. We have yet to have a client unhappy about print work because of color, because all you have to do to avoid that, is let them know that if they are picky about color, you can request a proof, but then it's going to take extra time to finish the project.