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PDF export for print changes CMYK values significantly, but not with JPG export

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The title is my problem. Here's how it's working.


  1. I make a CMYK document, and set the color of a black box to 30, 30, 30, 100. The color picker detects that exact color.
  2. I'll export the above into a PDF as PDF/X-1a:2003 or X4, and the included export setting image.
  3. Then when I import that PDF into Affinity Designer, the color picker detects different values... The box is now 79, 76, 70, 95. This same thing happens with every color. A 100, 0, 0, 0 cyan will be 72, 12, 0, 0, and so on.
  4. When exporting the same elements into a jpg, this problem doesn't happen.

See for yourself in the afdesign file here.


What can I do to get the exact values I set when printing via PDF, so I can still allow non rasterized elements to scale without losing quality?? I read around, and even InDesign seems to have this same problem... Maybe Affinity Designer is ignoring the embedded ICC profile of the imported image??... I just don't want $1,000 worth of prints to turn out bad over something so small.


color problem export settings.jpg

problems with color values.afdesign

Edited by discomushroom
added tags for searchability
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I have the same colour values when I export to PDF with a colour profile, and open the PDF in AD, and the profile is also reconized. I tested with 3 different profiles.

It's when I begin to use a different profile when exporting that the values are different.

So, the exported PDF contains the exact values.


What you did is placing this PDF in another document. And checking the colours values of the preview of this placed document. And the preview, displayed in RVB, don't give you the CMYK values.

That's normal.

But if you export the page, and open this new PDF in AD, the objects in this PDF have the exact values. 



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