RGB to CMYK – RGB Printing vs CMYK Printing

RGB - CMYKCMYK is a color mixing system that uses four colors of ink to achieve the desired hue. Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black pigments are used and combined to generate about a million colors on the visible spectrum for your printed projects. RGB color, on the other hand, uses light as an alternative to pigment to achieve the visible spectrum. RGB colors are most often found on computer monitors that discharge certain levels of brightness to achieve over 16 million colors.

Due to the variation and color differences, problems can arise when converting from RGB to CMYK. It’s even possible to create colors in RGB that you can’t recreate with CMYK (or out of gamut). The advent of digital printing has eliminated many of these problems, and has allowed individuals to print directly from there monitors to achieve precise results.

But the question remains, how can I convert RGB to CMYK? The answer, you do your best. There are guidelines that most commercial printer’s follow that will get you close to your desired result, but in many cases it will never be an exact match.

Most traditional commercial printers request files in the CMYK color spectrum to avoid the liability of color shift surprises in the conversion. The software below can help you in the conversion and allow you to work in CMYK mode. Also be sure to check with your printer for tips and tricks on how to alleviate color related problems.

  • Microsoft Publisher
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Corel Draw
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Quark Xpress
  • Adobe InDesign
  • Adobe Pagemaker


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