3 Methods to Export Your Graphics as CMYK

Artboard Tutorials, Ortelius Tutorials

In this tutorial we present three ways to use the Mac OS X ColorSync color management system to generate CMYK color space graphics from your exported Artboard and Ortelius graphics.

Color_is_Complicated_.png

A comparison of RGB and CMYK color spaces

Color is Complicated!

Even for experts, color management is a complex subject. Therefore, we only recommend the following workflows for experienced users who have professional printing requirements. Incorrect settings can lead to unexpected color changes. On any given project, determining from the beginning what is required is a best practice – particularly if you have publication standards that must be met! Check with your printer/publisher regarding their file format and color space requirements. read more…»

Assigning CMYK Color Space to Exported JPG and TIFF Graphics

In this tutorial we present three ways to use the Mac OS X ColorSync color management system to generate CMYK color space graphics from your exported Artboard and Ortelius graphics. The first method automatically assigns CMYK color space to your JPG and TIFF graphics. If you prefer to have both RGB and CMYK versions, the second method exports your graphics using the default RGB color space, and creates a copy of the graphic that has the CMYK color space assigned. The third method shows you how to manually assign the CMYK color space to an existing RGB graphic.

TIP: If you’ve never used Apple’s free Automator tool, this tutorial should give you a glimpse of the amazing things you can do with it.

Method 1: Exported graphics automatically assigned CMYK color space

  • create a new folder to hold your exported graphics
  • assign an automated folder action to apply ColorSync Profile to graphics

Method 2: A copy of the exported graphic is created and the copy is automatically assigned CMYK color space

  • create a new folder to hold default RGB exported graphics
  • create a subfolder to hold copies of exported graphics with assigned CMYK color space
  • assign an automated folder action that will create a copy of your exported graphic and apply ColorSync Profile to the graphic

Method 3: Manually assign the CMYK color space to an existing RGB graphic

  • open graphic in the ColorSync.app utility to apply a color space profile

TIP: In the following methods we are converting to a CMYK color space with “U.S. Web Coated (SWAP) v2″ color profile as a safe example – check with your printer for your specific requirements.

Method 1

wpid7346-Method_1.png

With a simple one-time setup, you can automate an assigned CMYK color space using the Mac OS X ColorSync color management system to your exported Artboard and Ortelius graphics.

First, create a new folder to hold your exported CMYK color profile graphics. For example, we’ve created a new folder on our desktop and named it “Artboard CMYK graphics”.

To assign an automated action to the folder:

  • Open Applications > Automator.app (we are using Automator version 2.3)
  • File > New to choose a type for your document, click on “Folder Action” and click “Choose”
  • In the drop-down menu for “Folder Action receives files and folders added to”, choose “Other…” and choose the folder you created for this purpose
  • Drag “Apply ColorSync Profile to images” from the list of Library of actions to the workspace to build your workflow (If an alert appears warning you that the action will change image files passed into it – click the “Don’t Add” button)
wpid7344-media_1354204782818.png
  • Choose “U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2″ from the Profile: Output > drop-down list
  • Save and name your folder action; close Automator.app

Now, whenever you export your Artboard or Ortelius graphics as TIFF or JPG saved to this folder, they are automatically assigned the CMYK color profile with the U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2 color space.

Method 2

wpid7347-Method_2.png

Very similar to the above, the second method exports your graphics using the default RGB color space, and creates a copy of the graphic that has the CMYK color space assigned.

First, create a new folder to hold your exported RGB graphics. For example, we’ve created a new folder on our desktop and named it “Artboard RGB graphics”.

Next, create a subfolder to hold copies of the graphics with the CMYK color profile assigned.

To assign an automated action to the folder:

  • Open Applications > Automator.app (we are using Automator version 2.3)
  • File > New to choose a type for your document, click on “Folder Action” and click “Choose”
  • In the drop-down menu for “Folder Action receives files and folders added to”, choose “Other…” and choose the RGB folder you created for this purpose
  • Drag “Apply ColorSync Profile to images” from the list of Library of actions to the workspace to build your workflow; when the alert appears warning you that the action will change image files passed into it, and asks “Would you like to add a Copy Finder Items action so that the copies are changed and your originals are preserved?” click the “Add” button
wpid7345-media_1354215076295.png
  • In the Copy Finder Items dialog, choose the folder you setup to hold the copied graphics
  • In the Apply ColorSync Profile to Images dialog, choose “U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2″ from the Profile: Output > drop-down list
  • Save and name your folder action; close Automator.app

Now, whenever you export your Artboard or Ortelius graphics as TIFF or JPG saved to the RGB folder you created for this purpose, the graphics are saved with the default RGB profile and a copy is created, automatically assigned the CMYK color profile with the U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2 color space, and saved to the CMYK subfolder that you created for this purpose.

Method 3

wpid7348-Method_3.png

The third method shows you how to manually assign the CMYK color space to an existing TIFF or JPG graphic.

Open

  • Open Applications > Utilities > ColorSync Utility.app
  • Choose File > Open… and select your file to be converted
  • In the bottom left corner of the application window, choose “Match to Profile” 
  • Choose the profile from the second pop-up menu at the bottom of the window, Output > “U.S. Web Coated (SWAP) v2″
  • Choose the intent of the color profile from the third pop-up menu at the bottom of the window (see the ColorSync Utility Help for guidance on options
  • Click “Apply” to save the changes to the file
  • Save and quit the ColorSync Utility app

(Note: The current version of ColorSync does not appear to be converting the color space on PNG graphics. We’ll need to follow up on this issue later.)

Other Options

These were just a few of the many options you have for easily converting your RGB graphics to CMYK. There are other 3rd party desktop tools available, such as GraphicConverter, and online tools such as rgb2cmyk . Do you have experience converting graphic image files from RGB to CMYK or using Apple’s Automator tools? We’d love to here your experience on the issue.

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Monitors and Print Products will Vary

Understand that monitors and their color calibrations vary in how well they can display color and graphics. Also, your graphics made using CMYK sliders in the Colors panel will look differently on screen than your printed product. Finally, even when properly calibrated all printers are different and results may vary slightly, even within the same print shop. What does all this mean to you? When color precision matters, be sure to test-run your print job to check the results before final printing.

Use CMYK Sliders When Creating Print Graphics

Mapdiva uses calibrated color throughout our apps, which means that if you have a calibrated workflow and select your colors using an appropriate picker (such as the built-in CMYK sliders in the Colors panel) you should be able to accurately reproduce those colors. CMYK color space has a smaller gamut than RGB. If you draw using RGB colors that fall outside the range of the CMYK gamut, when you later convert your graphic from RGB to CMYK the results may be unexpected.

PDF Export and Printing

Mapdiva’s output to the printer is PDF as is standard for Mac OS X, and carries through the calibrated color. Most printers are usually able and willing to accept PDF these days (and in fact often prefer it, as it solves all the old font hassles, etc). Fonts are embedded automatically. If post-processing work is needed on the PDF prior to printing, the printers will usually be able to manage that for you.

A Comparison of RGB and CMYK Color Spaces

The image demonstrates the difference between the RGB and CMYK color gamuts. The CMYK color gamut is much smaller than the RGB color gamut, thus the CMYK colors look muted. If you were to print the image on a CMYK device (an offset press or maybe even a ink jet printer) the two sides would likely look much more similar, since the combination of cyan, yellow, magenta and black cannot reproduce the range (gamut) of color that a computer monitor displays. This is a constant issue for those who work in print production. Clients produce bright and colorful images on their computers and are disappointed to see them look muted in print. (Source: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:RGB_and_CMYK_comparison.png Nov. 29, 2012) Want to Learn More? Here is a helpful overview “RGB vs CMYK” from printernational.com

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