There is a situation where I have to transfer colors in Hex Format (from an app) to Adobe Illustrator. But I need to extract the exact CMYK value (that was assigned in the previous app). Long story short. Let's take an example:

There is a hex value: #ff7253

it's RGB = rgb(255,114,83)

and converted CMYK from RGB (using formulas) : cmyk(0,55,67,0) (conversion link: CMYK to RGB - RGB,CMYK,HEX color codes online converter free )

But If I insert the above RGB or Hex in adobe illustrator color picker:

input = rgb(255,114,83)

CMYK will be : cmyk(0,69,68,0)

rgb to cmyk

and if I insert the CMYK value

input : cmyk(0,55,67,0)

output : rgb(246,141,94)

cmyk to rgb

Kindly tell me how to resolve the issue. How can I get same value for CMYK conversion on Adobe Illustrator

( (RGB>CMYK with formulas) = (RGB>CMYK on illustrator) )?

Thanks in advance for your help.


Grab a cyan marker. Make a line on two kinds of paper. One coated like a good magazine and one uncoated like a notebook.

The resulting Cyan color is not the same, the color is not the same. The printed color depends on the combination of elements, although you use the same amount of ink, let's say 100% ink.

So a color needs to be defined on a scenario, a type of ink, a type of paper.

You can not translate an RGB color to CMYK if you do not define a set of profiles and some methods of conversion.

So, when you say "formulas" what formulas are you referring to? The color profiles are some matrixes to convert the values.

Edited. Start your journey here: http://www.color.org/faqs.xalter


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  • I am referring to these formulas: rapidtables.com/convert/color/rgb-to-cmyk.html I understand that the conversion is not that simple and I am ready to learn complex stuff. I am an iOS developer and creating a vector app so I have to do this sort of conversions. But I am unable to get a reference of formulas with respect to color profiles. Since I have to program it, i have to know the formulae. – Talha Ahmad Khan Jun 21 '18 at 9:31
  • Those type of tables are misleading. If they do not define a color profile, they are worthless. – Rafael Nov 4 '18 at 2:35

Don't ever, ever use hex values to communicate CMYK colours.

Key in the CMYK value instead of the hex value. Different applications may use different conversion systems between RGB and CMYK. Even different files within the same app may use different conversions.

These conversion methods are called 'colour profiles', and there are a lot of them. It is impossible to find 'the' CMYK alternative to a RGB colour, for there are multitudes of different profiles.

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  • ok if we leave Hex on a side. then if we convert RGB>CMYK on a calulator, or website, and then we convert on Illustrator or photoshop, the results are not same – Talha Ahmad Khan Jun 21 '18 at 7:16
  • 1
    That is correct. If you want to know more, please try and find more information about 'colour profiles'. – Vincent Jun 21 '18 at 9:14

You have a common but ultimately wrong model of what color is.

A series of numbers represented by a hex value is not a color! It is a device specific instruction. Each monitor naturally shows a different color for that value. CMYK values are the same. So what your asking is how do I convert one uncertain thing to another uncertain thing.

You can however make a device show reasonably close to same color if you profile and or calibrate the output device. You can then map the number to a color and vice versa. We can naively understand web color as meaning sRGB color space. It does not mean any of uncalibrated device shows this color but at least there is now a robust meaning for the numeric values.

You can think of the color code as a instruction like "go to the central railway station and move 500 m along the southern road towards west". That is all good and well, but i have neglected to tell what city i am referring to. Naturally i end up in different places in different cities.

Now this is where your problems really begin. So one might ask what am going to do if the color can not be represented. This is an all too common problem, in fact it is nearly guaranteed to be the problem. You can solve this in many ways. How you solve this depends on what you mean color to be. One way of solving this is to just find the nearest color. This is fine if you design a limited color range. However one could take the view that due ti the human auto white balance this is not needed and you can account for that, OR because the entire color vision is relative to nearby colors you could just scale the whole used space to fit the new one. Or failing all that you might just choose the brightest most saturated color available. Or any method that you can think of.

So in addition to profile of starting space, profile of target space you need the conversion intent. Standard defines 4 intents (absolute colorimetric, relative colorimetric, perceptual and presentation) but any number of intents could be devised.

So at the end of the day each color has potentially 4 different standard solutions. Off course each color management engine is slightly different so the results vary widely. And RGB to CMYK is especially un-defined as there is 2 different ways to generate the black colors (unlike RGB, CMYK can generate the same(ish) color in several ways).

So how would you do the conversion. Well if you really want any semblance of accuracy then you would realize there is no formula. Instead there are unlimited number of formulas depending on profile. So you need a system that understand profiles - a color management system. You can get commercial ones, use the one that ships with your os or use a free ware one like little cms.

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  • PS: this answer is intended to be read in the voice of SImon Whistler ;P – joojaa Jun 21 '18 at 13:09
  • Oh a profiles are not exactly formulas per see but more like a programming language for taking you into a device independent color and back. And while it can be a simple formula it is also possibly something that can be hideously complicated and having multiple layers of logic. – joojaa Jun 21 '18 at 13:15

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