Skip navigation
This discussion is archived
810 Views 4 Replies Last post: Dec 7, 2017 4:13 PM by walton RSS
Level 0 65 posts since
Jan 23, 2010
Currently Being Moderated

Dec 2, 2017 1:45 PM

Why is cover darker than expected?

I created my book cover in photoshop (version 5).The front cover image I bought from Dreamstine, and it looks like it doesn't need to be lightened., but my proofs have consistently come back much darker than the original image.


Does anybody have any general advice as to why I'm not getting what I see on my PS page?

Do I need to save the file another way?  Mess with the type of color (RGB, etc.)


Any advice appreciated.




P.S.  I'm a real beginner on Photoshop.  Just limping around with it, using tutorials from YouTube, etc.

Level 0 12 posts since
Oct 31, 2017
Currently Being Moderated
2. Dec 6, 2017 8:22 AM in response to: bitbybug
Re: Why is cover darker than expected?

I ran into this too!


Make sure your image is completely converted to CMYK. The entire file, as well as any images placed within it.

Also, realize that printed ink appears 10-20% darker than your monitor probably looks.

I also found that gloss finish makes the covers seem a bit more vivid, while matte is slightly lighter.


CreateSpace customer service has been accomodating and helpful in helping me dial in the color on proofs.


Hope this helps,


Level 2 137 posts since
Sep 19, 2017
Currently Being Moderated
3. Dec 7, 2017 8:43 AM in response to: bitbybug
Re: Why is cover darker than expected?

You can make your monitor's screen brighter or darker; this affects how it looks on the monitor but not the original file.  Many people like their screens bright.  I would suggest printing your cover before sending it to CS.  I was able to save it as .jpg to a USB drive, then go to a photocopy store where I can print a color copy off the USB for $1/page.  This gave me a general idea.  However, this is not exactly how it will turn out with CS.  Also, there is variation between how covers come out in different print orders (darker, lighter, more magenta, more yellow etc.)  To solve the problem, depending on the software you use, you can make the cover lighter.

Level 5 19,170 posts since
Sep 5, 2009
Currently Being Moderated
4. Dec 7, 2017 4:13 PM in response to: SGCampbell
Re: Why is cover darker than expected?

From my experience, having printed thousands of color images through CS, I prefer to keep images in RGB (sRGB) unless I work in CMYK.  I will often go back and forth between RGB, CMYK, and Lab to color correct images. The minute I convert to CMYK, I will lose the out-of-gamut colors, but I can adjust both Y and K much easier.  When I go to CMYK I will keep an RGB copy open, so I can compare them.  When I have images with lots of out-of-gamut color, particularly large solid areas: converting to CMYK and adjusting the color is vital.


Saving a file as PDF/X-1a will automatically convert RGB to CMYK.  It is important to see if this conversion hurts the color.  If it does, it is best to do the conversion manually and then color correct before saving as a PDF/X-1a.


CS is set up to handle sRGB color and can generally emulate sRGB well . . . again, with the biggest exception being large solid areas of out-of-gamut colors . . . think of deep saturated or neon colors.


Image editing programs like Photoshop default with a dot gain set to 20%.  CS color printing  (Indigo presses) has a dot gain of 9-12%.  CS probably strips away the dot gain (and probably a lot more . . . KDP Print say it strips all profile information off, and applies its own profile).  While most monitors are significantly brighter than they should be, and in general transmitted light (monitors) is brighter than reflected light (print), one great way to test things is to print out your images: a desktop printer is CMYK and using photo paper (I use glossy for covers and matte for interiors) will give you a fairly good idea about what will happen to your images when printed commercially.  For most people, large areas of out-of-gamut color and shadow detail are the biggest problems.




Bleeds,  free, 91 page guide to bleeds, margins, covers, and annotated CreateSpace guidelines. Prepress Glossary: free, 79 page, fully illustrated prepress glossary with annotations for  CreateSpace users Type & Typography: free, 112 page illustrated guide to designing books, typography, with glossary, and type specimen pages  Free: list of free PDF downloads; selfpublishingforum: spam free forum. Contact  for graphics, design, and typesetting help.




More Like This

  • Retrieving data ...