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Colour mode & colour range



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Colour mode & colour range

Design print files in CMYK

Always design your print files in the CMYK colour mode. We automatically convert print files submitted in RGB into CMYK. Please note that conversions of RGB to CMYK may lead to colour shifts since not all RGB colours can be represented in the CMYK colour range.

RGB vs. CMYK: differences in colour representation


This photo in RGB mode has brilliant colours with a high saturation.

Colour representation on the screen: RGB (additive mixture of colour stimuli)


The same photo in CMYK seems less brilliant than in RGB mode.

Colour representation on the print product: CMYK (subtractive mixture of colour stimuli)

Computer, laptop, tablet and smartphone screens work in the RGB colour mode. What you see differs depending on settings (e.g. brightness, contrast, colour temperature and calibration) and processing quality of the screen. In order to achieve colour fidelity (like on print products), screens must be calibrated and profiled using a measuring device. Your program's output preview, also called soft proof, simulates the colour result in printing.


Properties of the different substrates

The substrate or material also plays a role in the colour reproduction on your printed product.


  • Different paper types have different properties. Recycled papers tend to have a greyish/yellowish tint, whereas offset papers or art papers can have a white or bluish appearance. Order our paper sample book to experience the different paper types, paper weights and finishes up close to help you determine which substrate best suits your needs.
  • Promotional items and textiles, too, may exhibit slight colour deviations between the selected spot colour and the actual print result due to the different substrates.

Colour profiles

Colour profiles and/or source profiles are necessary to interpret the colours of image data from different output devices (e.g. monitor or printer) as exactly as possible. Therefore, always use the colour profile adjusted to the product and paper/print substrate in your print files. The respective information can be found under “Data info” on the product pages in our online shop.

Generally, the following ICC colour profiles are used:
  • For coated paper: PSO Coated v3 
    (e.g. art print paper, MAGIC CHROME)
  • For uncoated paper: PSO Uncoated v3 FOGRA52
    (e.g. offset paper, natural paper, recycled paper)
  • For other materials: PSO Coated v3
    (e.g. flags, banners, displays)

You can download these colour profiles for free from the website of the ECI (European Color Initiative).

Output requirement

PDF/X files contain a so-called output intent specifying for which output requirement the PDF has been processed.

Colour representation with laserjet and inkjet printers:
Laserjet and inkjet printers do not output your print files in a way which is accurate in terms of colour. There can be significant colour deviations as compared to your print product.