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What Color Format/Profile should I use?


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For me as a rookie, it's very difficult to pick the right color options when setting up new documents... because there is so much to choose from!

I know that for Web/Mobile purposes I should use RGB colors, and for Printing I should use CMYK colors.
But what exact settings give me the best quality and best overall compatibility throughout different devices and apps?
(some devices/apps probably can't render certain color options too well)
-------
- For example;

I'm setting up a new RGB document, I have several options like;

Color Format - RGB/8, RGB/16 and RGB/32 (HDR)
Color Profile - Adobe RGB, CIE RGB, ColorMatch RGB, Display, Display P3, Generic RGB Profile, ProPhoto RGB, Wide Gamut RGB, image P3, and sRGBIEC61966-2.1

Now, what combination gives my RGB document the best image quality... but also has the best compatibility between devices/apps?
(with compatibility I mean, Red should stay Red on every device/app and not show up as dark orange on some devices/apps)

'One Aim'

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The general rule of thumb is RGB/8 and sRGB 

Try doing a few tests to see how the colours render on multiple devices.

Basic Test Card
Test_card.png.7afae20c45dc9bc1112ff3c5da9b9f37.png

iMac 27" Late 2015 Fully Loaded, iMac 27" Mid 2011 both running High Sierra 10.13.6 - Affinity Designer/Photo & Publisher - Illustrator CC, Inkscape, Blender, Sketchup, Pepakura Designer, MTC, Pixelmator & Pixelmator Pro + more... XP-Pen Artist-22E, - iPad Pro 12.9 B|  

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I often go for RGB/16 for my painting work. Profiles, Adobe RGB (and a creative name for a similar and capable one to avoid copyrights issues in Krita) , but yeah, really often sRGB for some cheap online print companies as somehow the workflows for some of those that only accept RGB  files, tends to go much better with sRGB..... :S

I lately , on raster applications, (ie, AP) don't start in CMYK for print stuff, as I used to do, I have my idea of what colors shouldn't I insist much on, and what is going to go out of range in conversion time. I convert at the end, as so I have a much more richer editing meanwhile (and less issues and limitations).

In flat colors vector design,  (using AD for this, or etc) there I start directly in CMYK, even with a specific requested profile, instead of converting to that profile in the end.

EDIT: for print stuff, it helped calibrating by hardware the monitor (and re calibrating from time to time) with a cheap i1 Display Pro, having 6500k bulbs ( expensive for what it is, but quite cheap overall, and last a lot...mines are yet CFL, as there weren't leds (better efficiency, but I think can harm more the retine, so don't look at 'em directly...well, to any light...I use white-neutral lampshades. Careful with some that will tint a bit the light!)  with that light temperature, back then),  and checking carefully with a book of samples, of CMYK mixes or samples (cheap also, about 30 bucks in Amazon, Pantone books are way more expensive), however you call that, so to compare with the screen ( ie, a tone with 10% cyan 20% yellow, etc.). For my work is enough. For a serious photo lab, no way, it wouldn't (surely to start with, a Nec Spectraview (NOT cheap) does not cut it, a professional Eizo does). But for my illustration work, often wrecked anyway at the cheapo local print shop or worse, online company where I have less flexibility, it reaches the needed ( and just fine) accuracy. Without even one of those elements, I know it wouldn't, as I was detecting big issues (well, what I consider big ones), even being quite trained in general editing.

AD, AP and APub.  Ryzen 9 3900X, 32 GB RAM, GTX 1650 4GB, 500GB m.2 SSD, 1TB HDD 7200rpm. Wacom Intuos 4 XL.

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Oh, profiles, for a king of compatibility in devices, sRGB.

For a wider color space, getting more vibrant colors, etc, some greens, blues and other tones impossible in sRGB, then Adobe RGB is fine for me, usually.

EDIT: My kind of illustration is not like... making fruit photography or the like... is often a toned down gamma, so sRGB, and even just CMYK from start would be just fine... It depends on the targeted thing. But making a sci fi game to be printed I learned to be cautious with neon lights, magenta nebulae, lasers and stuff, for converting later to CMYK.... :D:D  :D   (and u don't get ride of the issue if starting in Adobe RGB, as sooner or later, if the target is print in CMYK with a very specific color profile, you will convert the file, and better if toning down previously some of those light based colors. )

 

AD, AP and APub.  Ryzen 9 3900X, 32 GB RAM, GTX 1650 4GB, 500GB m.2 SSD, 1TB HDD 7200rpm. Wacom Intuos 4 XL.

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Ok, Color Format RGB/16 and Color Profile sRGB it will be than... due to perfect compatibility.

• Last question;

What about RGB/32 (HDR)? It sounds as if it's even more versatile... but I'm not sure how compatible it is between devices, do you guys know?
Is it just as compatible as RGB/16 is?

'One Aim'

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Unless you are creating HDR stuff it's probably a waste of space and many devices just don't resolve HDR quality so again its bits for the sake of it. I suppose you can always edit in 16bit and export a copy to 8bit to see how they work and if you would gain much, personally I don't think you would gain much in 16bit over 8bit never mind 32bit.

iMac 27" Late 2015 Fully Loaded, iMac 27" Mid 2011 both running High Sierra 10.13.6 - Affinity Designer/Photo & Publisher - Illustrator CC, Inkscape, Blender, Sketchup, Pepakura Designer, MTC, Pixelmator & Pixelmator Pro + more... XP-Pen Artist-22E, - iPad Pro 12.9 B|  

Affinity Help - Affinity Desktop Tutorials - Feedback - FAQ - most asked questions

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It's also usually adding more processing, making editing heavier, so, I'd do my tests, see what fits my workflow... I tend to work in 8 or 16 bits. But I am an illustrator, doing also some game, design and web artwork from time to time, mostly. Photographers might need a much higher depth.... As mentioned, 16 bits does the deal when having some issues with subtle gradients ( but beware if you are using a terrible monitor :D )  or drop shadows.... But sometimes with many layers and complex files in this old machine, indeed, very very often, I opt for 8 bits. I don't usually do HDR stuff, also. (not even photography, except some retouch gigs).

AD, AP and APub.  Ryzen 9 3900X, 32 GB RAM, GTX 1650 4GB, 500GB m.2 SSD, 1TB HDD 7200rpm. Wacom Intuos 4 XL.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi @Nemesis, what the best color space is to work in depends on the destination of your graphics. If you're designing for internet the result should be in the sRGB color space to be compatible with all browsers and monitors users have to view your work. But during the design proces you could chose to use a different color space with a wider color gamut, like AdobeRGB.

Yesterday I published a blog article about Color Spaces and Color Profiles, which is a continuation of a previous blog-article on Color Models, to explain more about it. There's also a part in it about bit depth. So you might be interested. And it explains what happens when you assign and convert color spaces and why use one over the other. And about gamma correction, which is very much related. There is a version in Dutch too and there are some interactives in it to explain the pretty technical subject a little better.

I'll probably gonna add a third blog-article on the subject which will explain more about important color spaces and compare those in the near future. But if your results will only be available on internet, just make sure all your output graphics are in the sRGB color space and you're fine. In Affinity Designer and Photo a Color Profile using this sRGB color space is called 'sRGB IEC61966-2.1'.
You can find the blog here in both Dutch and English:

Nederlands: Wat zijn Color Spaces, Color Profiles en Gamma-Correctie?

English: What are Color Spaces, Color Profiles and Gamma Correction?

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  • 1 year later...

@wigglepixel I just have to say your blog post you linked to and the previous one on color models are absolutely AMAZING! Although some was above my head, I was able to come away with a much better understanding of why the color codes I was choosing on coolors.co were not displaying the same when I entered them in my affinity programs with my default color profile set to "Display." I have now not only learned to assign the sRGB IEC61966-2.1 profile from your comment above when working on projects primarily for web purposes, but also was able to take a deeper dive into the why behind it on your awesome website. I just wanted to say thank you for making such quality information available!

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 6/8/2020 at 5:37 PM, SeeJaneB said:

@wigglepixel I just have to say your blog post you linked to and the previous one on color models are absolutely AMAZING! Although some was above my head, I was able to come away with a much better understanding of why the color codes I was choosing on coolors.co were not displaying the same when I entered them in my affinity programs with my default color profile set to "Display." I have now not only learned to assign the sRGB IEC61966-2.1 profile from your comment above when working on projects primarily for web purposes, but also was able to take a deeper dive into the why behind it on your awesome website. I just wanted to say thank you for making such quality information available!

Hi @SeeJaneB Sorry for the late response. I just see this comment for the first time. Thanks for the nice compliments and very nice and glad to hear that it helped you getting a better understanding of color models and color spaces! Yes, this subject can be pretty confusing at first (and second ;) ), but after a while you get the hang of it! 

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