Recently we have been receiving a lot of inquiries about the CMYK warning that might pop up with some image files that are uploaded for printing. I am here to shed some light on this if it has happened to you when ordering your prints at FinerWorks. When you upload a file for printing, our website takes a close look at the file and pre-screens the image to make sure it is the proper file type and can be read. One of the things it looks at but does not filter out is if an image is CMYK rather than RGB. In the past we have been anti-CMYK. Since then we have changed our stance, somewhat.
It used to be that when people contacted us about submitting images in CMYK our response was always a definite NO, please don’t. This surprised a lot of people, especially artists who had worked in the professional graphic design industry and were used to dealing with printing services which required images to be submitted in CMYK.
Our workflow is much better in my opinion than one of those offset printing companies and the technology used to produce fine art and photo prints in the digital world is also much different. The reality is we primarily use technology designed to print photography because those are the printers which make the most accurate fine art prints, and which are widely embraced by the giclee printing industry. We also service tons of photographers who are used to an RGB workflow.
To provide an over-simplified explanation as to why we were vehemently anti-CMYK , CMYK images were not able to take advantage of our color management workflow as wel. This frequently yielded a muddy or washed out looking print.
Starting in 2017, this had changed to some extent. Partially due to updates in the software that we use in conjunction with printing and partially due to improvements in the printing hardware itself. This has meant CMYK images which might not have printed as well before now print okay. And a surprising number of customers have been fine with the print quality.
So, my point is, try to not submit CMYK images if you can avoid doing so. Stick with RGB. However, if you insist in submitting a CMYK file, it is possible you may still get a decent print, just not as accurate as it could be.