Print Design for Web Designers: RGB vs CMYK and All That!

Dave Shea put out a sweet article today about basic print design for those of use who are primarly used to working on the web. It covers most topics related to color, including spot, process, color managment and the basic of RGB vs CMYK. Here’a a couple exceprts.

“Since web geeks think in pixels and RGB, it’s a daunting new world to head into unequipped. Over the years across quite a few print jobs by now, I’ve had to learn by trial and error. As someone used to thinking in RGB, I’ve looked high and low for a good resource to turn to for help in converting that knowledge to CMYK. This may not be that resource, but I figure I’ve amassed at least the beginnings of a how-to on the subject. Consider it non-authoritative, but hopefully useful. Most of the knowledge contained within applies to Photoshop, mainly because I’ve had the most trouble with it.”

“Rule Number One, above all else in print, is that what you see on paper will not look like what you have on screen. With tweaking it may be possible to bring the two closer in line, but suffice it to say that when first printing out your work there’s a very good chance you’ll find yourself horrified at the outcome. Never trust what you see on screen.”

“It’s a completely different way of interacting with Photoshop. Aside from layers, many of the usual tools are available to you when working in spot mode, and if you’ve spent time developing advanced masking skills you can adapt that knowledge and feel right at home. Otherwise, the least elegant way to work — but perhaps easiest to manipulate — is to build a set of greyscale files, one for each ink channel. Layers and editable text are usuable, but any areas that require more than one colour would need to be duplicated across both files, which makes editing tedious. You lose the ability to preview the combined channels though; the only way to get that back is to save a flattened copy of each greyscale file, then combine each in a new spot file, one channel at a time. Tedious!”