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Converting images from RGB to the CMYK color space

When preparing files for offset printing, converting images from RGB to the CMYK color space will help you achieve the desired color for your job. Any respectable image editor or file layout program has an option for it. Sometimes it can be tricky to find the specific option to convert to CMYK.

Here is a list of several common programs with instructions on how to convert images from RGB to the CMYK color space.

Adobe Photoshop

If the file already exists select the following menu options: Image > Mode > CMYK When starting a new file select CMYK for the mode before clicking OK.

Adobe InDesign

Use the following menu options: Window > Swatches and Window > Color. Double click color in Swatches Change color mode to CMYK and color type to Process. Any colors created in the document that are not in the Swatches palette, need to be changed to the CMYK color space. Select each object you want to convert and make sure the Color palette reflects the CMYK percentages. Click top right arrow in the palette to change to CMYK if necessary.

Corel Draw

Select each object you want to convert. Select the Fill tool and click Fill Color Dialog. Make sure the Color model is CMYK. For each object with an outline: Select the Outline tool and click the Outline Color Dialog. Make sure the Color model is CMYK.

Adobe Illustrator

Use the following menu options. For an existing file select Edit > Select All and then Filter > Colors > Convert to CMYK. For a new file, select File > New and select CMYK color for the Color Mode.

Quark Xpress

Use the following menu options: Edit > Edit Colors > Show Colors in Use > Highlight Color and click Edit. Change model to CMYK and deselect Spot color.

Adobe Pagemaker

Use the following menu options: Window > Show Colors. Double click “colors” in palette and select Model to be CMYK and Type to be Process. Please be advised that Pagemaker does not successfully represent CMYK color on the monitor.

Is converting images from RGB to the CMYK color space important?

Yes! It’s very important if you are working on an offset print document. Many commercial printers accept RGB images without question but using images with a RBG color space can seriously effect the printed colors in your image. We’ve seen black and white images, twisted color spectrums and more terrible stuff. Printers who accept RBG images usually auto-convert images to CMYK without checking the outcome and make it the clients responsibility.

Make sure you consider converting images from RGB to the CMYK color space yourself, so you can do adjustments on the CMYK outcome if needed and keep 100% control over image quality. While working in CMYK, here are some Adobe Photoshop CMYK tips to get you started.

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