How to convert RGB to CMYK in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign

Most design programs are set to RGB mode by default to optimize the image for digital formats. Before printing in CMYK or PMS, these RGB colors will have to be converted.

To switch from RGB to CMYK in Photoshop, click Image > Mode > CMYK Color.

To switch from RGB to CMYK in Illustrator, click File > Document Color Mode > CMYK Color.

To switch from RGB to CMYK in InDesign, click Window > Color > Dropdown button in the upper right corner > CMYK.

For other design programs, check the how-to files bundled with the software or at the publisher’s website to learn how to convert from RGB to CMYK. Note that not all design programs support CMYK conversion.

It’s recommended that you switch to CMYK mode before you begin designing. If you convert your artwork after the design is complete, you may have to go back and perform color corrections or fill in the gaps using PMS colors.

How to design with PMS colors in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign

When creating a PMS design, it’s a good idea to start with Pantone colors from the very beginning of the design process. RGB and CMYK both contain more colors than the PMS color model, so you won’t always be able to convert them directly.

To use PMS colors in Photoshop CS6, open the color picker, click Color Libraries and then click the Pantone library with the swatches you intend to work with.

To use PMS colors in Illustrator, click Window > Swatch Libraries > Color Books > and the Pantone library with the swatches you intend to work with.

To use PMS colors in InDesign, click Window > Color > Swatches > New Color Swatch > set Color Type to Spot and then set Color Mode to the Pantone library of your choice.


For other design programs, check the software’s how-to files or the manufacturer’s website for more information on using PMS colors.

Conclusion

Converting your files to the proper color mode before sending them to the printer not only saves time and money on your print job, it helps you to spot any color discrepancies before it’s too late to do anything about it. If you are having difficulties getting your design to look right with CMYK or PMS colors, consult with your printer. They will be able to help you to work out a solution and can offer advice on how to optimize your design for print.

Do you have any further questions about the differences between RGB vs CMYK vs PMS or how to utilize each color profile? Or better yet, do you have any tips or ideas for using these color profiles? If so, we’d love to hear from you, so leave a comment!

 

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