I hate CMYK!

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I hate CMYK!

Post by crowellphotographs on Wed Aug 13, 2008 9:59 am

I had a contract a few weeks ago for a publication. As fun as these are, I always dread CMY conversions, but apparently I didn't even know the half of it. I'm pretty used to the fact that shadow areas will become difficult to manage, but the image I had done took this problem to a whole new level. I guess I'll show the photos first then rant about how much I hate CMY after. I do like this photo though.

Before CMY:



After CMY(with an hour of correction):




First off, I will say that the original is more red than I would have left it if it were the final deliverable, but once I got the tones close enough, I made the conversion and left it like it was. The big issue is the loss of detail in the dark shadow areas. (dark side of the face and that nice lighting transition behind the subject.)
You should have seen what happened when i first made the switch. YUCK!!
The other issue is that CMY reacts completely differently to adjustments like contrast. (and not just the fact that everything is backwards)
I'm not sure if there's conversion plugins now, but I would suggest you guys start playing around with this stuff. It takes a lot of getting used to, and definitely has a learning curve. I'm still at the bottom of that hill waiting to get into the ski lift. Because of this experience, I've been doing a bit of playing around trying to minimize my workload when it comes to these conversions. I'll post more later, but what I'm finding is that it's better not to "finish" an image before making the switch. Keep your contrast loose, that is, keep your blacks away from black. Even then, you'll find that they lose detail.

HAs anyone else dealt with CMY? I'm really looking for some info, either plugin, program, or post production tips.
With new dry printing technology getting rave reviews for it's archival values,(which I believe is CMY) there may be a bigger push for all of us to go old school and start working CMY.
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Re: I hate CMYK!

Post by Nando on Wed Aug 13, 2008 11:01 am

I've never worked in CMYK but I've heard that it is a nightmare. It reminds me of the problems I was having when first working with my Epson 3800 and not understanding how to use the ICC colour profiles. In Photoshop, is there not a way to 'proof' CMYK while working in RGB?
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Re: I hate CMYK!

Post by Nando on Wed Aug 13, 2008 11:10 am

Now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure that CMYK colour space is different from printer to printer. I thought that was why people are using ICC profiles in the first place as they essentially specify the correct way to convert RGB to a device-specific colour space (CMYK for printers). Could your publication supply you with an ICC profile to use? You can either convert to or 'proof' the devices colour space in Photoshop using an ICC profile while still working in RGB.

Perhaps, I'm really off here - I have never worked in publishing.
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Re: I hate CMYK!

Post by crowellphotographs on Wed Aug 13, 2008 11:55 am

Well, now I'm really confused.
I have to admit that I have no idea. The scenario was that my client informed me that the publisher could do the conversion for me. I've had too many bad experiences even from reputable publishers to allow some stranger to deal with my images. Though, I do wonder how much worse it could have gone. My reasoning was that, if it's not possible to absolutely match the original, at least I can control how much different. Now you've got me worrying if I've just made things worse.
Most of my personally printed material came from hours of trial and error thumbnail printing. Desperately trying to find an accurate profile. In the end, with the epson printer available to me, I ended up downloading a profile intended for a Lacie electron blue monitor. It worked as a perfect match for my Mac monitor to the epson printer. I never looked back.

I'm going to have to look into this. Apparently I'm more ignorant than I thought. Wow.... I HATE CMYK!
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Re: I hate CMYK!

Post by Nando on Wed Aug 13, 2008 7:09 pm

I probably should have kept my mouth shut... I never worked in CMYK. Just remember some nightmares about device-specific CMYK while in university and ICC Profiles were supposedly the God-send that would solve the problem.

The two images above reminded me very much of what I first experienced in printing with my Epson. If I had an image like your first one on the screen, I'd print it and it would come out like the second image. My scans all have a sRGB profile embedded. If I make adjustments and then print the image on my Epson, it will look nothing like what I have on the screen. For printing on my Epson, I have to use an ICC profile. Epson provides unique ICC profiles for each of their papers on this printer. (I can't use ICC profiles for a different Epson - they're not the same) To ensure that what I see on the screen is close to what is printed, I have to do one of two things.

1. Convert sRGB to the ICC Profile for the particular paper I'm using. (Edit > Convert to Profile) The problem is that converting from one colour space to another often clips. I choose the dither option and never really notice a difference when working in 16-bit colour.

2. "Soft-Proof" the image. This keeps the original sRGB profile but the image on the screen is shown to look like if it was printed. In other words, it simulates my printer on the screen. I go to View > Proof Setup > Custom. A dialog box appears asking what device to simulate, then I choose the ICC Profile for the paper I'm using. Then, uncheck 'preserve RGB numbers' and 'blackpoint compensation' options. Then to turn soft-proofing on or off, I go to View > Proof Colors. I can continue working in sRGB without converting but what I see on-screen looks like what is going to be printed.

I know this is probably elementary stuff for you.

I was wondering if "soft-proofing" CMYK is possible while still working in RGB.


Last edited by Nando on Wed Aug 13, 2008 7:28 pm; edited 4 times in total (Reason for editing : further clarification and bad spelling)
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Re: I hate CMYK!

Post by Nando on Wed Aug 13, 2008 7:14 pm

Ok... I just noticed something.

Go to View > Proof Setup. There is an option "Working CMYK"

If you choose that and then go to View > Proof Colors to turn soft-proofing on, you can work in RGB yet what you see on the screen will be how it looks in CMYK.

Would that help????

Try turning on the CMYK soft-proofing when you first load the image. Do your adjustments - the image on screen should react as if you are working in RGB (because you are still working in RGB). Then at the end when you are done with your adjustments, do the CMYK conversion.


Last edited by Nando on Wed Aug 13, 2008 7:39 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: I hate CMYK!

Post by Nando on Wed Aug 13, 2008 7:26 pm

That's a nice portrait by the way.
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Re: I hate CMYK!

Post by crowellphotographs on Thu Aug 14, 2008 11:27 am

Thanks for the info Nando, I'll have time to play with that next week. I'm looking forward to it.

Much appreciated.
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Re: I hate CMYK!

Post by Primary Feathers on Fri Aug 15, 2008 8:38 am

I work in pre-press, but do not consider my self an expert on this subject by any means. But something I don't know if you have considered is the "Conversion Method" when converting RGB to CMYK. There are several options in Photoshop to choose from, The default i believe is "Relative Colourmetric", which takes into account the destination ICC profile that you have chosen for CMYK. If you can get the profile from whom ever you are doing the photos for this works well as long as they know what they are doing and their profile takes into account the media that they are printing on. Baring all that I find that using "Perceptual" as the Conversion method works best most of the time and will give you closest representation. Just some food for thought.

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Re: I hate CMYK!

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