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RGB > CMYK Illustrator brainteaser

Hi all,

I'm currently designing a logo to be used on printed paper bags, business cards etc. It has a light green colour as its background (search for 'darkseagreen1' here http://www.december.com/html/spec/colorcmyk.html). When I'm in RGB mode, I can create a pdf, send that as a test to my printer, and it comes out very nicely indeed. Not far from the bright green of the RGB on screen, all good. So I know that that shade can be reproduced with CMYK printing - it is within the realm of possibility at my printers.
But, when I convert my Illustrator document to CMYK mode, the colours of course come out darker. So I try playing with the CMYK values to get to an approximation of the green I like, and it's impossible. Not even close, the nearest I can get is a much greyer version which is completely unacceptable. So it appears that Illustrator's interpretation of what is possible with CMYK is very far away from reality. I know I can print a certain shade in CMYK that Illustrator can;t even come close to showing on screen.
So I guess I'm going to have to convert my files to RGB before creating a pdf to send to my printer because that's the only way I can create a pdf with the right shade of green.
This seems crazy to me! Has anyone had a similar experience? Got any advice on how to work with a colour that is possible but Illustrator doesn't recognise it as possible? Any thoughts much apprecaited,


Staff member
It's probable that your printer, even if it has cmyk inks, is using rgb profiles.

The only true way to know the exact colour for printing is by using Pantone colours. Go to your nearest printers and talk to them, use their pantone books to get the right pantone colour.

Then when you are using your logo, you will have the correct Pantone, the correct CMYK for print, and the correct RGB for the screen.

And it's completely possible that you will use the Pantone Spot Colour green, but select a different version of the green for the CMYK on coated stock, and a different one for uncoated stock, and that you may even select a different one that best represents your shade of green in RGB.

What you see on screen is a far cry from what will be produced by a professional printer. Unless your screen and your printer are calibrated, everything is a crapshoot.