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Color Settings for Printing Press


New Member
Hi there Photoshop Gurus,

I've been having issues with the colors of my Photoshop designs not being printed correctly by the printing press of my publisher, and I would very much appreciate it if any of you could help me out.

Let me start by saying that while I know my way around Photoshop to some extent, I am most certainly not a veteran. I'm definitely still a novice. Therefore I'm assuming that I most likely must have been doing something wrong.

Alright, I work as a freelance translater and was recently hired to translate two books, for which I also had to personally design the cover. I have designed these covers just the way I wanted to in Photoshop, and even when saving them as .PNG files and uploading them to my publisher, they look great and maintain their correct colors.
However, when I ask my publisher for a concept image of how my designs will look when they're actually being printed, the colors change dramatically. Full black turns into some kind of dark green, and dark red becomes purple. Which is very frustrating as I obviously do not want these books to be published like that.

Now I have done some research myself and know that the colors between my display monitor and a printing press are different. If I remember correctly, my monitor uses RGB, whereas a printing press uses CMYK (might have those mixed up), so I figured that perhaps there lies the issue.
I have been in contact with my publisher regarding this issue, and what they told me was that all I had to do was save them as .PNG files with RGB/8 colors, and that the color would definitely be printed correctly that way. Unfortunately, however, the color mode in Photoshop had been set to RGB/8 bit from the beginning, so that can't be it.

Below I will provide you with some screenshots to illustrate my point.

My design of the first book looks like this:

As you can see, the background is full black. However, once printed, it looks like this:

The color comes out as some sort of dark green. Unfortunately this doesn't come through all that well in the picture, but as you can see compared to the other book, it's far from black.

My design of the second book looks like this:

As you can see, a nice dark red background. However, this is what the print concept looks like from my publisher:

It's suddenly purple.

Finally, I will provide you with a screenshot of the Color Settings in which both these designs were made, and a screenshot of the image mode.

If any of you could tell me what it is exactly that I'm doing wrong here, or how I can make sure that my colors will be printed correctly, please enlighten me. I would very much appreciate that.
And of course, I would be more than happy to provide you with any further information if necessary.

Thanks everyone!
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Two things likely contributed to your problem.

#1) From the tone of what you wrote, and the fact that you did not mention this, I strongly suspect that you have not calibrated your monitor using a device (called a "hardware color calibrator") that is completely independent of your computer and video system. Basically, if you haven't done this, your monitor is almost certainly lying to you about how images really look. The amount by which they can be off can range from imperceptible to huge differences in color and tonality.

Using an un-calibrated monitor means that not only will your images look different when printed, they will look different when any industry pro looks at your images on their computers. This is because almost all people in the industry, particularly in the printing end of the game use computers whose color performance has been certified to be close to international standards and you are not doing this.

Perhaps, you may simply have forgotten to mention hardware calibration of your monitor, but if my guess is right and you have not done this, this will likely be a major contributor to your problem with mis-matched colors.

#2) The second likely / possible cause is that although your printer / publisher has told you that they accept RGB/8 files, they neglected to state whether they can work with RGB color spaces other than the most common: sRGB. If they only accept sRGB files, and not Adobe RGB files, there will be color and tonality mismatches between what you see and what you get, even if your monitor has been properly hardware calibrated. The reason this could arise in your case is because the screen shot of your preferences shows that your default working RGB color space is Adobe RGB. This means that unless you took an extra step to manually change Adobe RGB to sRGB for this one particular image, what you sent them was almost certainly in Adobe RGB. Usually the effect of this particular setting mismatch is fairly mild, ie lowered contrast and lowered saturation, not changes in the hue of the black point like you have stated. Your example of the red cover looks about right for this sort of problem. However, I can't tell much from the photo of the book with the black cover because of the quality of that photo.

The bottom line is that I suspect you have both problems going on.

If you would like to send us a copy of the PSD file that you used for the cover with the black background, it will only take us a second to look it over and be more certain about the source of the problem. If you decide to do this, you don't have to send us the full sized PSD file. A down-rez'ed and zipped version of the original that is only 1500-2000 pixels wide will do just fine and is likely to be small enough to be accepted by the forum's image uploading software. Your other option is to upload the full PSD file to Dropbox or www.WeTransfer.com and post the link they provide in the forum.


Tom M
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PS - Also, if, in the future, you need to post any more screen shots, please make sure they are at least 1500 pixels wide. It was almost impossible to read some of the important details in the much smaller screen shots in your previous post.