How to Make CMYK More Vibrant in Photoshop

Are you looking to make your CMYK colors more vibrant in Photoshop? If so, you’ve come to the right place! CMYK colors can look a bit duller compared to RBG but do not fear, there are some simple solutions to this.

In this tutorial, we will show you how to adjust the CMYK levels to achieve stunning results. With just a few simple steps, you can create beautiful graphics that stand out from the competition. So what are you waiting for? Start learning today!

Making CMYK Colors More Vibrant in Photoshop

You can easily make CMYK colors more vibrant in Photoshop with a few simple steps. The first thing you need to do is open your image in Photoshop. Once your image is open, you can do any of the following adjustments:

  • Hue/Saturation and Vibrance
  • Camera Raw Filter
  • Solid Color Fill Layer
  • Complementary Colors
  • Selective Saturation

These changes will all adjust the overall image creating a pop of color rather than dullness that is sometimes seen with CMYK. So if you want your CMYK colors to be brighter and more vibrant, there are a few things you can do in Photoshop to achieve this.

Hue, Saturation and Vibrance

To carry out this process create a new hue/saturation adjustment layer. Then adjust the saturation as you need to get your CMYK colors to pop in Photoshop.

An alternative approach is to use the vibrance adjustment layer. Vibrance will protect skin tones and already saturated areas of your image. Vibrance adds a more subtle saturation to an image. So this may be the better option if you do not want a dramatically vibrant image.

If complete vibrance is your goal, choose to change the saturation.

Camera Raw Filter

To use this method, start by converting your layer to a smart object. Apply the Camera Raw Filter from the filter tab/menu. A new window will open with vibrance and saturation sliders. There is also a clarity slider that can be played with to increase color vibrance.

When using the saturation section of the filter, there are eight different color sliders to choose from. This is helpful if you are trying to target one specific color in your image.

Solid Color Fill Layer

Another way you can create a more vibrant CMYK color is by creating a solid color fill layer. First step is to select the area where you have the color to make it more vibrant. Select the color of the area and set that as your paint color. Then select the solid color adjustment layer. Finally, change the blending mode on your layer to soft light.

Complementary Colors

Another way you can make CMYK colors pop in Photoshop is by using color theory. In color theory, complementary colors when used together, help make the image pop.

Add a hue and saturation adjustment layer. Adjust the part of your image you see fit. This works best when you have only two main colors in your image.

Some complementary color pairs you can use to make your CMYK colors more vibrant in Photoshop are:

  • Purple and Yellow
  • Orange and Blue
  • Red and Green

Selective Saturation

The last option you can use for brightening up your CMYK colors in Photoshop is to reduce the saturation of parts of the image you do not want the viewer to focus on. A mask will reduce the saturation of the entire image. Then you can select the specific color in your saturation dropdown menu and add saturation back to the image with that specific color.

For example, say you have a purple bird surrounded by greenery. You can decrease the saturation of the whole image and then increase the purple saturation so the bird pops.

Why Does CMYK Colors Look Darker?

CMYK colors are subtractive colors. This means as colors are added and blended together the colors will get darker. The more a color is altered from its original state, the darker the color will become.

this is important to keep in mind if you want vibrant colors. Choose minimally blended colors.

How Do You Get A Neon Color in CMYK?

Often it is very hard to get neon colors in CMYK. But there might be a time when you need these vibrant colors! You can mimic a neon color in CMYK by adding as little color as possible to one of your main colors. This is because cyan, magenta, and yellow all have a neon-like hue to them and with CMYK being subtractive keeping the colors as pure as possible is importnat.

However, true neon fluoresces and it would be impossible to match in CMYK because printers do not have fluorescent dyes or inks.

Some popular neon color combinations for CMYK to try would be:

  • Purple – 27, 89, 0, 0
  • Yellow – 11, 0, 91, 0
  • Orange – 0, 27, 100, 0
  • Red – 0, 96, 82, 1
  • Pink – 23, 83, 0, 0
  • Green – 51, 0, 85, 0

As you can see most of these colors mix only two of the CMYK colors to get a final more vibrant combination.

Can You Print Bright Colors in CMYK?

The easiest way to print bright colors in CMYK is to choose a paper type and weight that is good for your project. This will give you the best possible chance for your colors to print vibrantly.

For example, if you want your CMYK colors to be extra vibrant, try using glossy or semi-glossy paper. The high gloss of the paper will help CMYK inks appear more vibrant. Just be aware that high gloss papers can cause smearing more easily. Just let your CMYK colors dry a bit longer before you handle them.

If you want your CMYK colors to be less vibrant, try using matte or dull coated paper. This will help CMYK inks appear more subdued.

In general, it is best to avoid using textured papers when printing with CMYK. Textured papers may cause uneven pigmentation to occur.

In Summary: Make CMYK Colors More Vibrant With Photoshop

With the power of Photoshop, it is quite easy to make CMYK colors more vibrant with only a few mouse clicks. This post went into great detail on ways to change hue, saturation, layers, and filters to get the best, most vibrant output of CMYK colors.