Web Design » Illustrator » How to convert RGB to CMYK without losing color in Illustrator? [2024 Simple How To Guide]

How to convert RGB to CMYK without losing color in Illustrator? [2024 Simple How To Guide]

Last updated on February 7, 2024 @ 2:06 pm

Color plays a crucial role in design, and understanding how to convert RGB colors to CMYK, as well as embedding a Color Profile for printing, is essential, particularly in Adobe Illustrator, which excels in this area.

Let’s delve into some techniques to effectively utilize both these methods in Illustrator, ensuring that the original color quality is maintained throughout the process.

If you want to convert RGB to CMYK in Illustrator, there are a few ways that you can do it. One way is to use the CMYK color space panel in Illustrator. This panel allows you to adjust the colors in your Illustrator file according to the CMYK color space.

color panel in adobe illustrator showing cmyk colors

Another way to convert RGB to CMYK is to use the RGB to CMYK color converter in Illustrator. This converter will automatically convert the colors in your Illustrator file according to the CMYK color space.

Overall, the easiest way to convert RGB to CMYK in Illustrator is to use the CMYK color space panel in Illustrator. However, you can also use the RGB to CMYK color converter or the CMYK to RGB color converter.

What is RGB?

Digital images are stored in what is called an RGB color space (for “Red, Green, and Blue”). If your artwork will be viewed on a computer, tablet, or smartphone screen, you must use the RGB color mode.

The intensity of red, green, and blue lights within a device can be adjusted to produce any color. Additive mixing entails starting with a dark base (usually black) and gradually adding lighter shades (typically red, green, and blue) on top of each other to achieve the desired hue. All-white illumination results from combining red, green, and blue rays at the same intensity.

By adjusting one of the three base colors, designers can fine-tune the final product’s saturation, vibrancy, and shading. The designer can make any color they like by controlling how the digital light appears on the screen.

When should you use RGB?

Always save your designs in RGB color mode if a digital screen is the final destination. Everything involving a digital device such as a computer, smartphone, tablet, television, camera, etc.

When working on a design project that involves:

  • Logos, ads, icons, and buttons for websites and mobile apps
  • Suitable for use as cover photos, profile pictures, or background images on social media platforms
  • Content designed to be viewed on a screen, such as videos, animations, infographics, and photographs, is referred to as “visual content”

What about CMYK?

There are four colors used in printing: cyan, magenta, yellow, and key/black.

The ink used by a printing press is a physical manifestation of the CMYK color space, and the machine uses this space to create images. Subtractive mixing is the term for this process. Every shade is built up from a base of pure white; as more ink is applied, the desired hue is achieved by gradually decreasing the brightness of the ink. Black is the result of a combination of all colors.

When should you use CMYK?

If your final product will be printed on paper rather than viewed on a screen, CMYK is the color mode to use. A more faithful reproduction of your design in ink or paint can be achieved by working in the CMYK color mode.

If your work requires:

  • Stationary \ stickers
  • Business card personalization
  • Identifiers for Shops and Other Public Spaces
  • Product packaging and menus are examples of essential materials.
  • Sell logoed gear like t-shirts, caps, and sweatpants.
  • Promotional items (pens, mugs, etc.)
  • Various types of outdoor and indoor advertising, including billboards, posters, flyers, vehicle wraps, and brochures

Why it is important to know your color modes in Adobe Illustrator

By understanding the relationships between the various hues that make up a pigment, you can exert more influence over the look of the finished product. With practice, you’ll be able to anticipate how a design file will render in a particular color mode. For this reason, if you want your colors to look perfect every time, it’s best to hire an experienced designer.

For what reasons must RGB files be converted to CMYK?

It is standard practice for print shops to request CMYK PDFs whenever artwork is to be reproduced. Why? Ink is a necessary component of printers.

As I alluded to above, ink uses the CMYK color model and produces fewer colors than light. This means that some RGB colors are unsupported by standard printers.

In order to guarantee a high-quality printout, CMYK should always be selected. If you’re like most people, your documents are probably set to RGB by default, but when you need to print them you spend a few extra minutes converting them to CMYK, so they print out looking good.

PRO TIP: When converting RGB to CMYK, it is important not to lose color in Illustrator. To do this, make sure to click on the “Edit” menu and then “Color Settings.” From here, change the color mode to CMYK and then click on the “OK” button.


I hope you like my RGB to CMYK Conversion in Adobe Illustrator post. I summarized the easiest and quickest way to achieve this color conversion from RGB to CMYK in Adobe Illustrator.

If you want even more information about converting colors, check out more of our guides!

Madison Geldart

Madison Geldart

Cloud infrastructure engineer and tech mess solver.