Should we increase saturation and brightness on CMYK colors?

I already heard that when we’re gonna pick a correspondent CMYK color from a RGB one, it’s “recommended” increasing saturation and brightness in order to get a better printing result, because every color when printed on uncoated paper (regardless pantone), they “become” darker and less saturated.

I’d like to know from you if that’s true. I already saw that proof when I downloaded a visual identity manual from a bank here in Brazil and I could notice that their CMYK choice is brighter and has a little bit more of saturation. Here are those colors just to give you an example of what I’m talking about:

Their RGB is 204, 9, 47. Their CMYK is 0, 100, 75, 4.

UPDATE: the print shop contacted me and they said me to proof colors using FOGRA39. That generated a BIG difference in comparison with default US Web Coated Swop v2.


The short answer is: No, technically color profiles should take care of this.

This is a complicated subject, so I will only scratch the surface. There are many more thorough explanations on other questions on this site.

The idea behind color management is this:

  • You have a screen which is suitable for design work and which is correctly color calibrated and you are in a room with the recommended viewing conditions.
  • Your print shop follows a standard and provides you with the proper CMYK color profile for the chosen kind of paper.
  • You convert from RGB (with a known color profile) to the provided CMYK profile and the colors on print should match what you see on your screen as well as possible, when viewed under ideal lighting conditions.

So the correct CMYK values for printing a certain RGB color will be different according to which standard the print shop follows and which paper you print on.

But there is a tendency for printed material to seem darker than what you see on screen. Screens are backlit and send light at your eyes. Paper isn’t and requires light to be reflected back to your eyes. Even though a color can be measured to be similar on screen and print, it can be perceived differently in my experience.

Another thing is that printed materials aren’t always viewed under ideal conditions. A print can have many details in the dark areas which can be seen in bright sunlight, but are lost when you view the print in a darker environment.

I always tend to correct images to be a little too bright on screen before converting to CMYK because I know that it makes better prints which can also be viewed under less than ideal conditions. The same goes for color swatches, which I try to make just a little bit brighter and more saturated on screen than what I expect on print. But that’s hard to put on formula – it’s a matter of experience and taste.

Source : Link , Question Author : joaogdesigner , Answer Author : Wolff

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