We are slightly different to a commercial printer. We DO print in CMYK, but we prefer our customer to format their image files for the online designer studio in sRGB format. We have found that we get a better conversion to CMYK this way, keeping the colours a vibrant as possible.
We let our CANON IMAGE PRESS printers manage the conversion to CMYK for us, this allows us to keep a baseline standard. This is different to working with another commercial printer, who will want the files in CMYK from the start.
We have refined our process and colour management policy to get the best output possible, time after time.
We have tried to cover as many variations as possible on this, above all we recommend the sRGB profile is used, but here are the following questions you may have when trying to format your images for the best results with us:
If Colour is CRITICAL - Order a printed proof
If you are worried how your images may come out, or you are colour critical, then we recommend you get a printed proof. This will ensure you are 100% happy with how we print your images before your entire production run is printed. We cannot stress enough about how different printers use different machinery and processes. Not all printers are the same. If you are moving your supply to us, or the first time you have used us, you really should order a printed proof to make sure you are happy.
If you operate a 'calibrated workspace' and have your own printers at home, it would also be worth a printed proof to see how our print differs from what you print at home. You can always adjust a coloured workflow for your images when you have work to come our way.
CMYK vs sRGB - What is the difference
CMYK and RGB are what we call 'Colour Spaces' and they cross over each other. There are colours inside the RGB spectrum, that CMYK cannot reach. This is why we have developed our process to work with your files in sRGB - By converting your image at the very last stage we have proven it to get a brighter and more vibrant result - exactly what you want for your photo product.
There is likely to be a change when we convert to CMYK for printing, but as we manage that for you, it makes the process easier for you to understand what is going to get printed.
I use Adobe Lightroom - Is that ok?
lightroom does not deal with CMYK images - But thats ok, as we like your files in sRGB - so if you are using this software you only really need to make sure that you export your images with the sRGB profile.
DO NOT choose to format your images in the PROPHOTO profile - this profile is NOT suited to printing with us and will provide undesirable results. If you do not change this profile you will expect to see your colour change dramatically when printing from what you see on screen.
I want to supply my images in CMYK - What profile should I use?
Sometimes, our customers are used to converting to CMYK, or are a professinal designer and normally work directly in CMYK, or have dealt with a commercial printer before. It is ok to do this if you want to but we do not recommend this unless you are a professional.
We use the COATED FOGRA 39 CMYK output profile for our printing. This can be applied in your image processor software (such as photoshop) - It is very important that you do apply this profile if you are going to work in CMYK images - many leave the US SWOP COATED profile active (in photoshop for example) - and this will 'dull' and 'flatten' your image as it converts from SWOP to FOGRA.
The sRGB format is used worldwide and is a 'standard' - CMYK has different formats worldwide, for US, UK, and other countries, there are many profiles that are used, because we all print a different way. Not all printers are the same across the world. Getting your print in the US or ASIA, will result in a different print output if you do not use the correct profile, same as the UK - which is why sRGB is a really good standard to work in.
I use Adobe1998 RGB profile - Is that ok?
If you are a professional designer, you most likely are using Adobe 1998 RGB as your RGB profile. Although, technically correct and a really good workspace to use, we have tailored our process to the majority of customers who use sRGB, straight from the camera. You will see a slight 'dull' shift in colour if you supply your images with this profile attached - it will 'flatten' the colour a little when converting over to sRGB, then to CMYK for the final output. If possible please re-format your images to the sRGB workspace for best results.
My Screen Shows My Images How I Like Them!
Yes, of course, ...its your screen and you are used to this. You accept this as being CORRECT - but as equipment is all different, as well as lighting and ambient environments change, some bulbs are yellow, some are white. You may view your screen in the daylight, all these will affect how colour is percieved - this leaves us a question... is your screen accurate over the screen in your conservatory room, or the HD screen on your friends tablet or the mobile phone you use - which one is right? The image here shows just how different things can look, which one is correct?
This is a massive topic and we cannot go into it -but you cannot rely on what you see on your monitor to be 100% correct, even if you are using a calibrated monitor - because all printers are different, have different machnes, some use inks, some use toners - even the paper is ALL different and each of these affect the final outcome of your colour print.
We calibrate our monitors here to match what we see on screen to what comes out from OUR printers. Generally what we see is what we get. This a CALIBRATED WORKFLOW - We appreciate that you may have calibrated your monitors, but is that calibrated to our printers? likely not to be the case. We have the printer right here next to us and can see what comes out - directly - so for us on our screens, stuff looks pretty accurate to what we print. We dont have access to your screen, through your eyes. If you want perfect colour, you MUST get a printed proof.
So the Final Outcome?
We mention it quite a bit here, if you are in any way conscious of colour or expect a specific output based on what you see on your own screen, then you really should be ordering a printed proof. We offer different levels of proofing, here they are explained in full:
1 - No Proof - I Accept The Printed Result:
This option is to proceed without a proof of any kind. You will assume full responsibility for the product you receive with regards to the information you have given us. Any errors present in the file, such as spelling/grammar mistakes or misplaced images will be your responsibility. We are still, of course, responsible for print or finishing errors such as lines on the printing, or an image missing that is present in the design file.
2 - Email Proof
For this option, we send your file again to you after your order is placed. This file will be a low-resolution PDF file optimised to be sent by email. There will be a loss in quality for this proof and cannot be used for quality or colour accuracy - this email proof will be purely content only and is a good way of double-checking everything is ok with your file one last time before it goes to print - You CANNOT use an email proof as a colour accurate proof.
3 - Unbound Printed Proof
This means we will print your file out and proof physically. Here you will see the actual output for colour accuracy and final quality. If there is anything wrong at this stage we can then look to rectify any issues. Perhaps the colour isn't right or the quality of the images is too poor - we can then work together to rectify any issues to get the right output so everyone is happy.
4 - Full Bound Printed Proof
The same as above, but here we fully finish your proof into a final item, so any calendar binding and punching will be included showing the final product exactly as it's going to be produced.