I have an Illustrator file with a mint color. It's a flyer, meant to be printed. Illustrator tells me the CMYK of this color is (0.15,0.01,0.10,0). When I use a third-party color picker, and I use it on the image opened in Illustrator, it gives a CMYK value of (0.09,0.02,0.04,0).

When I save it as a PDF, I notice the mint color is slightly (but very noticeable) darker on the export. When I use the color picker on the export, it says it's (0.12,0.03,0.07,0).

My main goal is to export it so that it looks the same as in Illustrator.

I also notice that the colors change a lot when I choose a different Color Setting using Edit->Color Settings. Right now, it's on "Europe Prepress 3". Is this good?

My Document Color Mode is CMYK and my profile is assigned to "Working CMYK: Coated FOGRA93".

A guess: is Illustrator changing the colors so that it looks more like it would when the print is coated?

Any advice is much appreciated!


2 Answers 2


I don't know how that color picker works but I'd assume it can't read the CMYK values from Illustrator or from the PDF, so what you're actually getting is CMYK values converted from the RGB representation of that color that your screen is showing you.

You need to remember that what you see on your screen is just an RGB (which is how your screen makes colors) approximation of the CMYK (which is how colors are made with inks) values you set in Illustrator or wherever.

That doesn't solve the color inconsistencies on your export though, but you need to inspect the actual color values in the PDF, not use a color picker that works on what your screen is showing you. Just open up your PDF in Acrobat or back in Illustrator and check what values the objects have there. If the values have changed then that is because you're converting to another color profile on export (which may or may not be what you want).

As for color settings and which profiles you should be using, that is a much bigger question and not something someone can just tell you. You should only ever really need to convert something to another profile if/when a printer gives you a specific profile that needs to be used though.

If you don't want any conversion then make sure the "Color Conversion" option is set to "No Conversion" on the output tab of the PDF export dialog.


I think there may be a button called "Proof Colours" inside View options. I'm not sure about Illustrator, but in Photoshop there is.

Maybe try that out? :)

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