What color spaces do you recommend for giclée prints?

Adobe RGB (1998)

This working space has a significantly larger gamut than any of the working spaces discussed so far. Adobe RGB (1998) uses 2.2 gamma encoding. It is much better for those who output their files to a printing press, since the gamut allows all colors in Specifications for Web Offset Publications (SWOP) CMYK to be fully contained.

One issue with a gamut this large is it is bigger than the gamut of nearly all displays. Saturated colors that may exist in Adobe RGB (1998) could be outside the display gamut and thus not visible. You might be editing colors you can’t see.

This fact is true of all working spaces that exceed a display gamut. A few high-end displays providing an extended gamut matching Adobe RGB are now available, but at a very high price.

Unless you know you have such a display, you are probably working within the gamut restrictions of sRGB when viewing your images. The advantages and disadvantages of wide gamut spaces are below in more detail.


Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft designed sRGB as a standardized RGB space for consumer-level digital cameras, scanners, and printers. Such devices would assume the color space is sRGB, making the reproduction process within applications that didn’t use color management simple.

The goal was that users of these devices wouldn’t require any color management knowledge to produce acceptable results.

sRGB is derived from HDTV standards, so nearly all CRT and LCD displays can reasonably produce sRGB if properly calibrated. Even uncalibrated, such devices often produce adequate color from images in sRGB. Because few web browsers are ICC aware, sRGB is currently an ideal color space for images destined for the Internet.

Of all the RGB working spaces installed with Adobe applications, sRGB has the smallest gamut, at 2.2. However, sRGB’s gamut is a limitation for more demanding output, such as a printing press or many of the ink jet and photo printers so commonly used today.

What is a gicée print?

Giclée.(Zhee-Klay) is associated with types of inkjet printing. This includes processes that use dyes or fade-resistant, archival inks (pigment-based), and archival substrates primarily produced on Canon, Epson, HP and other large-format printers.

These printers use the CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) color process as a base. Additional color cartridges are used to produce smoother gradient transitions (such as light magenta, light cyan, light and very light gray). Top model printers use up to 12 different inks (orange, green, violet, red, green, and blue) to achieve this larger color gamut.

A wide variety of substrates on which an image can be printed with such inks are available, including various textures and finishes such as matte photo paper, watercolor paper, cotton canvas, pre-coated canvas, or textured vinyl.