This article contains a tutorial about how to properly convert RBG to CMYK without losing too many colors. As you should know, RGB and CMYK are some pretty different color spaces, both utilizing a different group of primary colors. CMYK is good for printing, whereas RGB is best for digital. Printing with ink (black) is a real physical thing, whereas digital makes color via the use of white and light.  Of course, this is all covered in the previous article which can be found here.

Step by step, let’s get into this!

Here we have a simple .PSD, made for the sole purpose of this tutorial. It is currently in RGB, purposed for digital and well, best for digital alone.

If I am to change this could I just change the color mode to CMYK? (Image > Mode > CMYK)

See, when I do that the colors change somewhat, some drastically and some not so much, so I need to be precise and put a little extra work into this.

Alright, so we’ll turn this back into an RGB mode… and…

Voila, we’re back to square one. Now, in order to change the modes correctly, we’re going to have to have more control over the color spaces. Letting it automatically do this isn’t the best, so in order to make this CMYK the best and most accurate representation of RGB, we’ll have to go to Edit > Color Setting.

Where to find the Color Settings.

Go to the drop down menu under settings. Here there are many different presets per country. Select a CMYK that best fits what the printing conditions are, and then select that. Selecting the ‘perceptual‘ option will usually result in the best continuity between the RGB version of this image and the CMYK version.

Color settings and perceptual option.

And voila, again! Photoshop is now properly converted, however we’re not completely finished yet. We can now reopen the RGB version of the photo, and it will pop up with  a warning.  Select “Use the embedded profile” and let the magic happen.

If you don’t get this warning, you can go to Image > Mode > CMYK Color.


There are some colors that may not be interpreted correctly, and in order to see what has not been converted, you may go to View > Gamut Warning, and whatever colors will grey out are colors that do not exist within CMYK’s color space. Photoshop will then select the color nearest to it and apply that one depending upon your settings.

CMYK may be a bit duller than RGB, as you can see. We can edit this using Photoshops tools, such as replace color tool…

…Or the levels too, to ramp up on the nice, saturated color.

Photo by Denise Chan on Unsplash.