How to convert color profiles, mistery solved

This time I want to explain a technical detail, misterious and mandatory: color profiles and color conversions. When a color didn’t print as expected, or it looks different after a conversion, something went terribly wrong.

Important differences between RGB and CMYK

The main thing to know is that RGB color space is wider than the CMYK one. It means that some colors that we can see on monitors can’t be printed on paper.
This is why colors are converted to find the closest CMYK color. The original, saturated and brilliant color is sacrificed. This is the reason a lot of artists say that “printing makes colors dim”.

Which color profile?

I know that some artists, to save themselves, start colouring in RGB if the image is supposed to be for web or video, or start in CMYK for images supposed to be printed.
But in this way they turn down the wider and more brilliant RGB profile. Plus, if the client wants to use the image everywhere, he’ll end up with a dimmed image for the web or an altered image for print.
The professional solution would be to work in RGB and then generate a “print version” converted in CMYK… but what a mess with colors!

Then, how can we painlessly convert from RGB to CMYK?

Easy. 😉
Did you know that there are several profiles for each category, and not alla of them are “compatible”?

Well, here’s a super winning pairing: sRGB IEC61966-2.1 and Coated FOGRA39.
These two color profiles convert to each other seamlessly. Plus, the FOGRA39, among with FOGRA27, is one of the most used profiles for printing. So you can send your files to almost every printer without stressing about the result!

Here’s the infographic of color conversions at your fingertips.

Click to open and save.

Color profiles are a very complex topic, I just scratched the surface and offered you a solution. Feel free to explore the matter and share your thoughts with me.

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Francesca Urbinati Artist

Francesca Urbinati

Sono illustratrice e fumettista freelance. Ho lavorato su effetti speciali 3D, graphic design e multimedia per RAI, Mediaset, Adobe, ArtOrder LLC, Studio Hamburg, MoveTheGame e molti altri. Pubblico la serie a fumetti Niki Batsprite e aiuto altri artisti e autori a emergere.
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