Graphic Design / Interactive Design / Fine & Applied Arts / Parkland College

Graphic Design Exercises
InDesign: Prepping a Photo for Press


To learn how to use Photoshop to optimize a photo for printing.


When purchasing professional images from photographers, you will be buying RGB images (stock image downloads are in RGB mode as well). This is because RGB images have a larger color gamut. Therefore, all retouching and compositing work should be done in RGB mode and saved in the PSD format for archival purposes. The PSD format is an excellent archival format because it is non-lossy and will retain all your layers for future editing.

If the image is to be used in print, one must first convert it to CMYK before placing it in InDesign. Once an image has been converted to CMYK, it has lost some of its colors and those colors can never be brought back. This is why one should always keep an archival RGB image for safe keeping.

In addition, images are often used for multiple applications and will most likely be published in multiple media. At the very least, an image might be used for both a brochure and a website. Sometimes, the same image will also appear on billboards or on TV. Depending on the media, RGB images may be required instead of CMYK. This is another reason why your archival image should be saved in RGB mode.

  1. download this image: backpackers.jpg (RMB > save image as...)
  2. open the file in Photoshop and save it as "backpackers.psd"
  3. image > image size: resample=no, resolution=300 PPI
  4. window > info
  5. duplicate "background" layer (for safe keeping)
  6. filter > sharpen > unsharp mask: amount=50
  7. new adjustment layer (levels): highlight=231, midtones=1.21
  8. new adjustment layer (vibrance): vibrance=60
  9. show/hide each layer
  10. foreground color: sky blue
  11. new layer: "sky"
  12. gradient tool: draw vertical gradient (foreground to transparent)
  13. layer mode = darken
  14. type tool: add your name and exercise number to the top
  15. save
  16. layer > flatten image
  17. image > mode > CMYK Color
  18. save as "backpackers-CMYK.jpg": quality=maximum (10)
  19. print b&w proof (scale to fit media)


  1. submit b&w proof with your name and exercise number on it for grading
  2. file your graded proof in your Process Book for individual review

Last updated: 3/2/17 ■ Webmaster: Paul Young