When to Convert to Profile and When to Assign a Profile

When to convert to profile and when to assign profile in Photoshop

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Never take these two functions for granted. They are entirely different processes and will break your chain of Color Management.

A successful Color Management workflow will always consist of a Source and Destination profile. These profiles will “link” devices and maintain the most accurate translation of color from device to device. The profile connection between Source and Destination is the LAB color space.

When you Assign an RGB profile, the numbers within the file will stay the same, however, the color will be DIFFERENT. The difference in color stems from the size of the gamut for the particular color space you are working in. Don’t forget that sRGB has a smaller color gamut than Adobe RGB and the color will be different.

Always convert to CMYK, never use “mode” change. Convert to Profile is a best practice to produce the most accurate color.

If your printer can not provide you with a custom CMYK profile, run! There is no scientific method they are using that will provide you with an acceptable color match on press.

Always communicate your color objectives from the very beginning.

Does this clear things up? Please leave a comment below…


  1. LEDO Fernandes

    Hi Rick,

    All my printers have a standard profile run,(I am into production of magazine publishing). Our advertisers, digital artworks come from various sources
    and with different profiles, some Artworks are still received in RGB and we are asked to get the same converted to CMYK for printing. The trend for black backgrounds have grown over the years with most fashion and luxury Ads received with Black Background merging with the main image at the center, the TAC of ‘rich black’ tone differs from one Ad to another on preflighting I notice density values CMYK 70-60-50-90,
    60-60-40-90, 60-50-40-100, 50-50-50-80, 40-40-40-100
    even sometimes 100-100-100-100
    you must be sure what I am getting at..advertisers have occasionally complained in comparison to other Ads Oh..the other Ad has a nice black tone, there are some Advertisers who send files with 100K only (if its a column or patch) we do request the Client for Rich Black or we convert the same at 60 40 40 100 before we send it to press.
    I am in contact with a Chinese friend in China and was checking with him about standardization and TAC, he mentioned that we do custom jobs so what ever inputs the Client gave them they printed. The same goes here with us
    one of my A1 printer said “although we have a CMYK profile you give me total density as 400%” we will print,
    yeah I know but it screws my opposite page sometimes by smudges if not given proper drying time

    surprisingly I noticed my 400% 100 100 100 100 black has printed beautifully on Web.

    *Thats a nice article of yours on Gutter/and crossovers
    properly explained with pictures, hats off to you sir, I admire your passion for Print Technology

    1. Hi Ledo,

      Thanks for the kind words! Yes, I am passionate about Print technology; the original media!

      I’m surprised these printers don’t use ink optimization software in the RIP to adjust TAC. But then again, I’m baffled by what printers do these days. There seems to be a total lack of knowledge on prepping files for press.

      Do printers realize how much extra cost this means?

      Where are you writing from?


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