What kind of color do you like?

If you told someone that you really liked chocolate, what would be the most likely question you’d ask? 

What kind? Dark, white? Hersey’s? Godiva? Cadbury? Twix (my personal fave)?

Most people think color values are absolute on their own but there’s a missing ingredient.

Enter, Color Spaces

(Also known as ICC Profiles)


Default for Adobe programs. It’s not good because we can produce a wider range of color than this.

Gracol 2013 CRCP6

It’s the closest color space that our printing devices can produce. 

Nonstop Printing targets this ICC Profile for CMYK elements.


Default for most programs including Adobe programs. It’s not great. In some areas of the color space, we can produce a wider range of color than sRGB.

Nonstop can target this since it’s the most common setting images are designed with.

Adobe RGB 1998

It’s the largest color space that most printers recognize. It more than covers the colors we’re able to produce (even more than most monitors). 

This is the ideal target for RGB elements. You can get the best of both worlds. Bright colors and difficult shadow detail.

Great, but how do you get stuff to look the same as they move to each color space? And why do we even need different color spaces?

Different obects and different machines have a different range of color they can produce. In printing, we can’t just make red, green, and blue inks to mimic monitors because ink relies on an external light source while monitors emit light.

Even within CMYK, the factories that make each of the inks differs from company to company. So for example cyan from one company can be a brighter cyan from another. This effects the range of color that device can produce.

The Color Challenge

Take a look at the four color spaces superimposed. How would you decide how colors are interpreted when it exists in one color space, but not another?

Yeah, me neither. We’ve got some super expensive fancy software that takes care of it for us. It’s a software called GMG that was made by a few super geniuses in Germany. But it can’t solve every scenario. 

We can reduce the color range from one space to another but we cannot increase the color range from one space to another.

But… we can lie. You can do it by “Assigning” a color profile. It’s kinda like changing the wrapper of a chocolate bar.

Color Spaces Superimposed

color spaces showing SWOP V2, Gracol 2013 CRCP6, sRGB, and Adobe RGB 1998

Let's experiment!

Here’s a quick example using photoshop and you can do this with any image. I have an image below with the original “kind” of color (sRGB.icc) and I took an eyedropper to measure the RGB values of the orange wall.

Original Image tagged with sRGB
Below we have the same exact image, with the same exact RGB values, but let’s change the ICC Profile.
Let’s change the kind of color the values represent.

You can do this too. In Photoshop we assign/tag an image by going to Edit – “Assign color to profile…”. 

The changes below should scare you.

Example of different profiles "tagged" to the image. The RGB values did not change.

So going back to our candy bar example, should we just change the wrapper and we’re set? Great question! You’ve just leveled up to go beyond the scope of this introduction! Let us know if you’re hungry for more by clicking here.

So why isn't the world crumbling with terrible color?

Don’t sweat it. Adobe programs and others default to a safe, but throttled color space.  At Nonstop Printing, we tend to work with people at the margins of creativity so we need to sweat it.

Adobe Program Defaults

For Adobe programs, the defaults are:
We always mention both CMYK and RGB elements because in PDF documents, you can have both within the same file.
The sad thing is that these defaults throttle the color range of your images.

Nonstop Printing Targets

Nonstop Printing targets three profiles:
RGB = you can choose either sRGB or Adobe RGB 1998
CMYK = we only target Gracol 2013 CRCP6. It’s very similar to Coated Gracol 2006.

 We do this regardless of what your file is tagged because too many files aren’t tagged correctly. To gain the most control, you’ll want to design with these profiles for the best color predictability.

At Nonstop Printing, the most ideal combo for the most color range is Adobe RGB 1998 for RGB elements and Gracol 2013 CRCP6 for CMYK elements.

Should I put effort into managing color?

Maybe. Up to this point you didn’t know this information and you’re doing great!

No, I'm wasting my time if...

  • I’ve never had color issues.
  • I don’t want another thing on my plate
  • It’s the printers job, right?
  • Just print the job, seriously.
  • What? Color?
  • If managing color is like exercise, I don’t want any piece of it.

Yes! Finally there's some answers!

  • I feel like print really kills my digital designs.
  • I can never get the color the be how I want it.
  • I had a terrible experience with color before.
  • How can the printer not even LOOK at the sheets?
  • I have bright colors that I want to maintain.
  • I have shadow details that I’m struggling with

I'm ready to manage color!

We may develop some practical courses. Here are the general steps:

  1. Set up your Adobe Color Settings to gain control of your color workflow.
  2. Check what ICC profiles your elements are currently using.
  3. Decide whether you want to assign or convert color.
  4. Let Nonstop know whether you want to target sRGB or Adobe RGB 1998. Remember that for RGB elements, Adobe RGB will give you the widest range of color.
nonstop new building

Vibing? Quote your project!

We’ll help demystify the print process so you can choose the best method for your project.