I have an RGB PSD document with 300 dpi resolution. Basically I designed it to print as my business card. When converting this from RGB to CMYK, my original colors are changing. Is there any way to keep the colors intact so CMYK looks exactly the same as RGB?

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    Have you searched the other questions here. RGB is always different from CMYK.
    – Lucian
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 8:00
  • 1
    This was a slightly different question, but the answer is the same: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/4464/…
    – Westside
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 8:47
  • "RGB is always different from CMYK." and thats what I am asking here as "How do I change it to look almost similar to RGB" if there actually is any way which I believe there must be. @Lucian Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 10:25
  • 1
    My workflow is: Make a flattened copy. Put them side by side. Then I convert the copy to CMYK and I use Hue and Saturation to approximate the colors.
    – LeoNas
    Commented Feb 5, 2019 at 19:31

4 Answers 4


No, you can't expect RGB colors to translate exactly to CMYK for printing.

Monitors make colors with light. Light can be any intensity. Ink is made of solid physical colors from things like rocks, which are ground up and put in a medium like oil or latex. You spread ink on paper and it's never going to be as bright as a color on a monitor.

Offset printing presses use four specific ink colors -- CYMK. When they are mixed together, they can produce many shades, but not nearly the type of shades -- such as electric green, safety orange, deep blues, and many other shades and intensities -- that can be produced by a monitor, or by special chemical mixtures (having nothing to do with CMYK) that create specialized inks/paints.

  • I should also in the interest of accuracy amend my answer to say that CMYK colors are not exactly "mixed" in offset printing. Halftone dots are printed in rosette shapes that our eyes perceive as different colors. It's an amazing technology, really. Check out this: the-print-guide.blogspot.com/2009/04/…
    – user8356
    Commented Nov 7, 2017 at 14:38

By changing color mode you essentially change colors.

RGB and CMYK are entirely different color spaces, and can't even reproduce some colors available in other. Because of that, and because both color spaces achieve their colors through entire different method (RGB is additive and CMYK is subtractive) the colors you get when switching color mode in document will be made as close to original as possible - but not identical.

If you want a coherent color scheme in your identification system, you must select it at first, and find equivalents in other color spaces prior to working with them. That way, you'll be sure your color scheme stays the same throughout your entire work.

There is a lot of debate whether documents for print should be prepared in RGB or CMYK colorspace - some newer printers do work on RGB colorspace and try to preserve colors when printing, but in my experience and because most printing offices that I work with don't use state-of-the-art modern machines I've learned that if I want some color in print to appear as I've designed, I should make it a CMYK one.

Some articles on the issue:

  • 1
    I am very surprised to read that there is discussion about whether print documents should be prepared in RGB. As far as I know, that is always a Bad Idea. Can you substantiate this claim? It's the first time I hear of it.
    – Vincent
    Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 2:34
  • Vincent, I started getting confused here smashingmagazine.com/2009/10/…
    – Monnize
    Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 15:17

Is there any way to keep the colors intact so CMYK looks exactly the same as RGB?

This question has a lot of views, so I'll be more specific and try to answer what can be done.

I. Have a color-calibrated workflow.

This has several steps, in general terms:

  1. Calibrate your monitor.

  2. Calibrate your printer and generate a color profile to the specific printing conditions including machine, paper, and inks.

  3. Use the profile on the computer to simulate the colors on the screen that will be printed. When converting the files from RGB to CMYK the change will be minimal because the colors are already previsualizing and simulating this change, showing them duller.

There are many configurations to the color conversion between models. One is the color transformation parameters, they are the method used to squeeze one space into another. But for now, just leave the default options there.

  1. Embed the color profiles on the file and maintain a strict workflow to preserve this color-calibrated process.

II. Have realistic expectations

To normal people, having realistic expectations will save you a lot of frustration. If you expect that "hit me on the eye" green or that laser beam glowing in the print, those are not realistic expectations.

Having some minimum settings and configurations on the computer is a must.

In this case, the most important point is 1, having your monitor decently calibrated and 3, having a CMYK previsualization and simulation turned on from start... and hope the printer had done some homework too.

Yes, they are different color modes and live in potentially different spaces. But knowing the limitations and managing them is part of the design process.

It all reduces to knowing your workflow, and this is specific to your case and to your limitations. Sometimes you need to tweak things around due to lack of a proper process.

  • 1
    You might add to the profile workflow that it can preserve exact color if you choose the absolute cliometric intent for the conversion method, off course with the caveat that the printer can make that color. Which obviously is the real limit anyway
    – joojaa
    Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 18:11
  • I added a note. But I will leave only a general view.
    – Rafael
    Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 18:19
  • "you wrote the answer I was contemplating on writing" MUAhaha :o)
    – Rafael
    Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 18:19

It's easy, In Photoshop specifically. You save your edited photo as .psd file, then change the photo Mode from RGB to CMYK, but before this converting, you are asked to rasterize the image and flatten all layers, so you'll lose your original work and image. When the image is rasterized and flatten, then go again in section "Image" than "Mode" and change your RGB image to CMYK... without losing any colors!

I was playing with this problem and I find this way to solve it.

Good Luck! 😉

  • 1
    Welcome! RGB colors and CMYK colors are different per definition! Changing fron one to the other means loosing of colors ...
    – Mensch
    Commented Feb 5, 2019 at 18:12
  • Welcome to GDSE. Please look around tour to get a sense of who we are as a community, and what we're about. Look at How to Ask and How to Answer questions, to learn how to frame acceptable queries and what to expect of replies and answers; please also look at help center to understand our community's internal behavioural expectations. RGB & CMYK aren't just different colour models, they're also a different colour gamut, so there are RGB colours you cannot approximate in CMYK - there's no bright light shining from your colour - just bounce light, and colours absorb light, not add. Commented Feb 6, 2019 at 16:03

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