You can print in RGB mode

You can print in RGB mode

Yes, you read the title right.

As too many digital artists know, CYMK is the standard mode when it comes to printing.

We cry at how dull the colors become when we covert our beautiful, vibrant digital RGB colors into CYMK for print.

Because that's the only way to print art, right?


Meet 6-Color RGB Printing (6色RGB印刷).

By adding Vivid Pink and Vivid Green inks to your standard CYMK inks, the printers are able to reach a range of color previously not available before.

(Source: Eikou)

Some illustrations benefit much more from this printing than others.

For example, my Our Dear Angel piece has certain blue/pink hue that loses its vibrancy in CYMK. In the art book I tried to color balance it as close to its original colors as possible, but it's not quite the same.

Also see the difference in color vibrancy in Yonema Mai's art book versus the postcard that came with.

Below are sample cards from graphic.

Where is RGB printing available?

As far as I can find at the moment, Japan.

There are several major Japanese print shops that offer 6-color RGB printing (or ask you to send your files in RGB because they're able to print the colors as close as possible).

Is it super expensive to use 6-color RGB?

No, it's actually fairly affordable and the price generally doesn't increase too much from regular printing.

In general my experience, printing books in Japan are lower priced but higher quality than printing in the US. The thriving doujin community there means thriving printing shops as well.

But depending on where you live, the yen conversion + international shipping fees may not be worth it. Especially since books and prints are cheaper if you buy in bulk, and bulk means heavy packages.

I generally pay $150~400 in DHL shipping fees. And I've heard of a case where the artist had to pay $600 just for shipping.

Also, you'll likely have to use a proxy warehouse service as many print shops will not ship internationally. I use tenso to be my warehouse middleman.

Any other cons?

In many shops I found, 6-color RGB printing doesn't have as many paper type options.

I'm guessing there's some physical limitations restricting them. So if there's a specific special paper you want to use, it may not be available and you have to choose between using that paper or getting bright colors. This was my dilemma for the longest time.😅 Maybe I'll do a paper post later.

Also most print shops aren't able to accommodate US standard sizes, such as 6"x9" books or 11"x17" posters. They use Japanese Industrial Standards (JIS).

Are all 6-color RGB equal in quality?

Definitely not.

One shop I was excited to test due to their very affordable price, but after ordering test samples, I realized why the price was so low.

(left, cheap print shop. right, a normally-priced print shop)

As you can see, the colors of the cheaper shop is different.

The paper was notably flimsy and cheap feeling too, despite me having selected the same matte coated type.

Here are the list of some popular shops that offer RGB printing (& other review notes):

  • Eikou (株式会社栄光). Good for people who want a no-frills, easy ordering process. They have their own special eikou comic paper. They do special delivery to Taiwan.
  • STARBOOKS. An incredible catalogue of beautiful foils to use on covers. The offer a lot of cover embellishment options too, like cutting and folding, etc. Many novelists use Starbooks. Many cover paper options but not many art papers.
  • Graphic (グラフィック). A very famous print shop, used by many artists for their amazing printing quality and big catalogue of art papers. Very few cover embellishment options. They can print both Adobe RGB and sRGB modes. For CYMK profiles, they recommend you use Japan Color 2011.
  • Print-ON (プリントオン). An incredible catalogue of cover papers and embellishment options, from various flashy papers to cut outs, foils, folded covers, etc. I spent multiple days browsing through the options and I still haven't seen everything. B/W comic printing quality is great, color printing is acceptable.
  • Otaclub (おたクラブ): They don't offer 6-color RGB specifically, but they ask artists to send files in RGB mode as they're good at printing vibrant colors. I liked how vibrant my blues looked with their printing.


Etiquette note: If you use a Japanese print shop, don't forget to credit them in the last page of your book as well as list your artist contact info. If you look inside any Japanese doujin, you will see the credits list at the end.

This is to help spread word of their business, and should any legal copyright problems arise, the legal people know to contact you.

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