How to Convert RGB to CMYK Without Losing Color

If you are a graphic designer, then one of the first things you learn is that there are two different color models: RGB, which stands for Red, Green, Blue, and CMYK, which stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. The RGB model is designed for on-screen design or communications (such as websites). The CMYK model, on the other hand, is better for printed designs. One problem that many graphic designers run into is how to convert RGB to CMYK so they can print their work without losing the color.

As a graphic designer, you will need to be able to use both of these models effectively and sometimes interchangeably. The printer will automatically print it using CMYK, and the graphic will end up looking completely different from intended. Read on to find out how to convert RGB to CMYK and keep the colors you want. 

How Do I Convert RGB to CMYK?

To be clear, even with adjustment, a printed version is not going to look exactly the same as an on-screen version of the design because the ink does not produce light as screens do. They are using entirely different color schemes because the method to make the colors is entirely different. On-screen creates color using light, while print creates color by taking away light.

Therefore, it is essential to have realistic expectations about what the design will look like on paper. It is also important to do some work beforehand. In addition to simulating and seeing what the design will look like in CMYK, it is also important to calibrate your monitor and printer. Calibrating the monitor is crucial so you can get an accurate portrayal of what it looks like. Calibrating the printer is important so that it prints the colors the way you ask.

Read below to make sure that no matter which medium you’re viewing your Placeit art, it looks flawless.

Calibrate Your Monitor

Calibrating your monitor is a simple process but is different depending on whether you are using macOS or Windows10. If you are using a Mac, take the following steps:

  1. Click the Apple icon. This is located in the top left corner of your screen.
  2. Scroll down and click ‘System Preferences.’ Once you have clicked, a small window should open.
  3. Locate and click on ‘Displays’ then ‘Color.’ Then click on the button on the right labeled ‘Calibrate.’
  4. You will be taken through something called ‘Screen Calibration Assistant.’ Choose the white point, give your color profile a name, and click ‘Finish.’ Your monitor should be calibrated.

If you are using Windows 10, take the following steps:

  1. Right-click, click on ‘Display settings,’ then click on ‘Advanced Display.” This should all be located at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Set the recommended resolution. You will know it’s the recommended resolution because [Recommended] will be beside it.
  3. Choose the color calibration. Then, using the examples as a guide, choose the gamma, brightness, contrast, and color balance.
  4. Click ‘Finish.’ Your Windows 10 screen is now calibrated.

Calibrate Your Printer

In addition to calibrating your monitor, you should also calibrate your printer. How you do this will vary slightly depending on the type of printer you have, but generally speaking, you will need to do one of the following:

  • Open the printer application that came with your printer
  • Download calibration software from the manufacturer’s website

From there, you will have step-by-step instructions to help you calibrate your printer.

How Do I See What the Design Looks Like in CMYK?

Before you print the design, the best thing you can do is see how it looks to know what aspects can and should be changed. How you do that depends on the kind of software program you are using. There are three options: Microsoft Publisher, Adobe Illustrator CS6, and Adobe Photoshop CS6, each with its own way of converting an RGB file to CMYK. Let’s discuss each in more in detail.

How to Convert to CMYK in Microsoft Publisher

To convert an RGB file to CMYK in Microsoft Publisher, click on the menu bar, and click the ‘Tools’ button. From there, select the button labeled ‘Commercial Printing Tools.’ You should see an option labeled ‘Click color Printer’. Once you have clicked that, click the button labeled ‘Process Colors (CMYK),’ and then click ‘Okay.’ The conversion should be complete.

How to Convert to CMYK in Adobe Illustrator CS6

To convert an RGB file to CMYK in Adobe Illustrator CS6, click on the menu bar, then select ‘Edit.’ Once you have clicked the ‘Edit’ button, you should see several options. Select the one labeled ‘Edit Colors.’ You should again see several options to choose from. Click the one named ‘Convert to CMYK.’ The conversion should be complete.

How to Convert to CMYK in Adobe Photoshop CS6

To convert an RGB file to CMYK in Adobe Photoshop CS6, click on the menu bar. Next, click on ‘Select Objects.’ You should see a button labeled ‘Image’. Click on it, and then click the ‘Mode’ button. Lastly, select ‘CMYK color.’ The conversion should be complete.


If you are in graphic design, one of the most important things you will learn is that there are two different color models. One is used for on-screen graphics, such as websites. It is called the RGB (Red, Green, Blue) mode. The other is used for printed graphics. It is called CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black) mode. Converting an RGB to CMYK without losing color requires some work, and it is important to remember to have reasonable expectations.

To convert RGB to CMYK, it is important to calibrate both your monitors and your printer. If you have a Mac, the calibration process will be different than for Windows, and you may need to download software to calibrate your printer. The final step is to convert RGB to CMYK using the menu bar in Adobe Illustrator CS6, Adobe Photoshop CS6, or Microsoft Publisher.