I have a book detailing different color pallets of traditional Japanese colors, and I want to use one of these color pallets in designing a website. The issue is, the book lists all the colors in CMYK, and is, of course, printed. When I enter the CMYK values and convert to hex colors, some of them stay largely the same, and others appear way too bright on screen. I know the color spaces are different, and about the differences between additive and subtractive coloring, but I'd really like to use the colors as they are printed in the book!

I was reading about printing, and matching printed colors to colors on screen, but I have the reverse problem. Is there any way that I can simulate printed CMYK colors on my screen? Ideally I'd like some way that doesn't require manually adjusting each color, as there are quite a lot of them.

Sorry if this is a hopelessly naive question, still very much a beginner.

  • Not sure I understand. "Hex" is RGB.. all CMYK colors are within the RGB spectrum. Any anomaly would be a software conversion error... which is going to require manual correction. Perhaps the mistake is trying to move from CMYK to HEX. Converting to RGB first, then checking hex values may work better.
    – Scott
    Sep 8, 2020 at 6:11
  • What software are you using to do the conversion? Which specific colours are you having a problem with? CMYK colours are well within the gamut of RGB colours, so you shouldn't have any difficulty converting them to RGB.
    – Billy Kerr
    Sep 8, 2020 at 7:55
  • @Scott no not all, just most. Mostly though in dark tonbes we dont care so much about. So priont can generally make much better variations in black than screens can
    – joojaa
    Sep 8, 2020 at 11:19
  • CMYK color does not actually make any sense without knowing what CMYK standard you followed, if any. OTherwise CMYK is different on every printer
    – joojaa
    Sep 8, 2020 at 11:20

2 Answers 2


If you have the printed book you can take a calibrated photo and take samples from it.

I have the reverse problem. Is there any way that I can simulate printed CMYK colors on my screen?

No, It is not the reverse problem, the problem is the same always. You can not simulate RGB colors on a print, you always simulate printed colors on a screen. The "reverse" is that you want to extract colors, not pre-view them.

  1. Take a program that can actually simulate CMYK colors, assign some logic color profiles. Corel Draw, Illustrator, Ps, Indesign. I would suggest an old profile on a coated paper. SWOP2 for CMYK and sRGB for RGB.

  2. Export the palette to an RGB file, like PNG, and use it as a reference.

  3. You can also use a color picker to read the RGB or hex values from the screen.

  • 1
    It's also possible to use Krita since it supports CMYK, but is free and open source - so the OP doesn't need to buy anything. Also colour profiles can be downloaded for free from the International Color Consortium website if needed.
    – Billy Kerr
    Sep 8, 2020 at 8:14
  • 1
    I think Japanese printers are unlikely to design in SWOP
    – joojaa
    Sep 8, 2020 at 11:22
  • No, but "Ben" probably will. Besides that, if for some reason he will need to translate that pallette to Pantone colors, I think that Pantone's website uses Swop v2.
    – Rafael
    Sep 8, 2020 at 14:18

The RGB scheme has a greater range of colors than CMYK, so you should be able to have an easy transition CMJN > RGB and a difficult RGB > CMJN.

The problem may come from how you convert to hex or RGB, i dunno what you are using right now, if you don't have a graphic software, i suggest you go on https://color.adobe.com/fr/create/color-wheel to try them.


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