Comic book printing is expensive, so you want to make sure you get a good result.
Understanding RGB and CMYK color profiles is a first important step, and is something you should know before you attempt to print your comic book.
What exactly are RGB and CMYK?
RGB refers to red, green, and blue and is the color model used in the digital space.
CMYK represents the colors, cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, and is the color model used for printing. Black is represented by a ‘K’ because in color printing the black plate is typically called the “key” plate by press operators.
Here is a short explanation of the difference between them.
A simple rule is that your digital comics and anything dealing with the web should always be in RGB. All of your printed comic books will be CMYK.
Computer monitors and other screens display a larger color range than it is possible to print. A screen can display far more colors than a printer can print, which is why customers often complain that their work looked different on screen than it does on paper. The colors you see on screen must convert to colors that a printer is capable of reproducing.
Look closely at these two images. The top one is RGB. It’s vibrant and punchy.
Now look at the same image after it’s been converted to CMYK. At first the differences seem very subtle, but take a closer look. Much of the green area has filled in with black. The oranges and reds are a bit lighter and not quite as vibrant.
How printing presses and commercial digital printers use CMYK
To achieve color on a printing press or a commercial digital printer, each ink (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) has its own plate. The press operator/printer prints one color, waits for it to dry, lays down another color, waits for it to dry and so on. Today’s presses employ technology which requires hardly any drying time between each plate.
Your printer may accept an RGB file, but because of the way the color changes when the file converts from the RGB profile you see on screen to the CMYK profile necessary for printing, it’s often better to provide a CMYK file to your print shop.
By converting your file to CMYK before you send it to the printer, you’ll be able to see those changes in advance and will be able to adjust your artwork accordingly. Ideally your print shop would provide the correct CMYK profile for the specific printer they use, but since that’s not always (or even usually) possible, a standard CMYK profile will work too.
What you see on your screen will still not be a perfect reflection of what is printed, because your screen is not calibrated to the printer, but you’ll be able to see and adjust any unwanted dramatic changes.
In other words, there will still be a difference between what you see on the screen and what prints if you do the CMYK conversion yourself then make some adjustments, but it will be more subtle than if you allow the conversion to happen at the printer.
There’s an article that goes into more depth called How to Get a Good Print Job inside the member hub.
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