RGB to CMYK Printing Advice

Hi everyone,

My usual printer went bust recently so I’ve been trying to find one to replace it, that offers good quality at a reasonable price. I managed to locate one that seemed reasonable, sent my designs and received a very mixed bag, my logo uses some set colours which although my previous printer didn’t print them exactly as they are seen on a monitor they were totally acceptable and bright, (I have attached the colours)

Well my new printer has printed the same logo on different posters and the colours are different on each poster, mainly the Purple and the Navy, on one the purple is extremely drab and grey and the other it’s more maroon. Both really don’t work After printing my logo one way for so long I can’t change the look this drastically now, at first I assumed that they had used different printers for different posters, but doing some research it seems they used a different CMYK profile conversion for each poster, I’m guessing, but is that possible?

Now I want to use this printer going forward, but I need them to get this right, what can I do to make this situation easier, how would you guys convert the colours from RGB to CMYK? Of course I haven’t talked to the printer yet (I got my delivery on Saturday) and will update you when I do.
Strangely I bought some stickers from them and the colours were much better… Thank you

I assume you were using a digital printer and not an offset printer. Correct?

A logo built around RGB colors with no acceptable CMYK version is a problem waiting to happen.

Digital printing machines are all different. The way one machine prints is no assurance that the next will be the same. Some digital printers have additional inks that can approximate some colors that lie outside the CMYK gamut.

Perhaps your first printer used a machine with these extra ink or toner colors. Maybe your last printer didn’t bother trying to match your RGB files. From your description, it sounds as though the printer might have done a straight-forward RGB-to-CMYK conversion and just printed it. I have no way of knowing.

If you really needed a purple outside the CMYK gamut, you should have used a Pantone spot color. Had you done this, a conscientious printing company with the right equipment would have been better able to approximate your RGB colors.

As I said before, an RGB logo lacking acceptable Pantone or CMYK versions is a problem in the making.


Your printers will be trying everything they can within the limitations of the process to reproduce your colours. When you talk to them, make sure they know the consistent colours are more important to you than accurate colours. Have them do a series of test prints on various types of paper and card and settle on colours that are acceptable to you. They won’t be accurate reproductions of the colours you see on your monitor.

There are some RGB colours that are impossible to print on paper or card whatever method you use.

There are some RGB colours that can be approximated with spot colour ink but not with CMYK.

There are some RGB colours that can be approximated using CMYK.

It is also true that the colours that you print using CMYK inks cannot be accurately displayed on an RGB monitor.

RGB and CMYK produce colours by completely different physical effects, using display media that are completely different. Your monitor emits light and colours. The printing process produces colours on paper or card that absorbs light.

It is impossible to accurately print RGB colours using inks of any kind, by whatever method, but you can get close. It is always a compromise. There are standards to follow, but these produce approximations.

Your monitor is not displaying RGB colours accurately - no monitors do. You can never be accurate or consistent. Try opening the same document on another machine and put the monitors together. Even with all the settings copied, they will look different.

You seem willing to compromise. This is a good thing. Talk to your printer and they will work with you to get the best outcome for you.


Both the blue and the purple are pushing gamut for a good CMYK machine. The blue would be tough even for a machine with a violet pot. It’s pretty darn close to the evil Reflex Blue.
Talk to the printer, though I gotta say, it doesn’t sound promising if they are not consistent across prints where the only thing different is the filename.


Thank you everyone for your advice, I’ve spoken to the printer, he’s said that I can visit them and colour match but that’s an expensive process and they’re in a totally different area of the country, I asked if there is anything I can do to make things easier, he said I could go into photoshop and make sure the colour values are the same, I didn’t want to seem stupid so didn’t question it too much, but do you know what process he was talking about?

I’m unclear (I read too quickly sometimes so apologies if this was covered)… why are you letting someone else convert your colors? Or is that you’re unsure how to do it now that the poster has already been created? If that’s the case, best practice for me would be to rebuild it in CMYK.

All my efforts at producing print files are aimed at controlling the outcome at print. I wonder if that’s what they were asking you to do. Prepare the files with CMYK mix you chose to make the outcome predictable. Color bridge swatches would help.

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You lost me at Photoshop…
It’s not a layout program, though I get it if the printshop is requiring jpgs for output…
It’s certainly not the more acceptable way to do things.

Do you have access to any other software?
Is that “logo” of yours by any chance a Smart Object?


I’ve never worried about conversion before and never had an issue, how would you go about converting from RGB to CMYK?

The logo is not a smart object, just a PNG, I can get access to most software programs, tell me what to do and I’ll do it?

It should be done in Illustrator

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This guy is informative: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iiUZzfBeMw

I tried it in photoshop but it looked dreadful, is illustrator better?

From my printers website, don’t know if it helps:


Process Colours are referred to as CMYK, Cyan (C), Magenta (M), Yellow (Y) and Black (K), four colour process or even just process. These different colours are used to reproduce a colour image. Combined together in varying proportions CMYK produces the full colour spectrum.

Pantone colours are often specified for printing as a ‘spot colour’, a specific colour printed using an ink made exclusively and typically for jobs which require no full colour imagery like colour matching for corporate branding to ensure consistent colour reproduction.

  • Pantone spot colours that are intended to be four colour process and litho printed should be converted to CMYK using the Pantone+ Color Bridge® library. This is not necessary for digital printing as our digital presses create a colour simulation for spot colours.
  • Convert all RGB colours to CMYK as colour separations for printing cannot be made from RGB files.
  • If your job is full colour, please ensure that you work entirely in CMYK. If your program does not support CMYK or Pantone, we will need to convert your colours before printing.
  • Please bear in mind that monitors and desktop printers do not produce accurate representations of the press printed colour.


Photo shop

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I don’t often quote myself, but you never answered my question. Your last response quoting the printer’s website instructions seems more appropriate for offset than digital.

That depends on the poster’s artwork. How about posting a link to it? This is sort of a side issue, though, and not especially relevant to the color problem.

It’s reasonably apparent why the colors were off on your posters.

Your original RGB colors were outside the CMYK gamut (see image below). The printer converted the additive RGB colors to subtractive CMYK process colors, and the results are what you described.

The question is, why did the printing company print it this way?

It could be because (1) the poster was printed on an offset press using process colors or (2) if digital printing was used, they converted it to straight CMYK instead of using the extended gamuts of most digital printing machines to better approximate the RGB colors. You haven’t provided enough information for anyone here to know why that happened.


You’re asking us instead of the printer because you don’t want to appear uninformed to the printer. But it’s OK to do so with us. Seriously? No one is born with an innate understanding of printing. We all started out totally naive and learned through experience and asking questions.

Absolutely, and I didn’t mean to imply that the ‘Recap’ I posted as insinuating it’s not ok to ask questions, but the answer is in the name.

Photoshop - for photos.
I never understood why people assume it’s ok for logos.

Given that I just googled ‘best software for logos’ and Illustrator was in there - it’s not intuitive as ‘Photoshop’ where a more apt name would be ‘PixelShop with a side of vector’ - guess it’s not catchy.

Anywho - Googled it - and got back a mix-bag of software, AI and Crowdsourcing.

I wish Google would do more to push phonys to the bottom of the pile.
But the more you pay and the more hits you have the higher you can rank in Google.

No wonder it’s difficult to ascertain the information - the internet is completely unreliable.

That’s why I’m thankful for forums like these still in existence.

I guess if you have Adobe software then question is

What’s the Best Adobe Software for Logos

Gets a better answer and more on point.

Anyway - can you create a logo in Photoshop in CMYK - yes you can.
Should you - absolutely not - unless you are fully aware of all the pitfalls and how to be realistic with your approach for real world applications.

That comes with years of experience and not for beginners.

Illustrator is far better tool and the correct tool.
Not just for the layperson - but anyone creating a logo.

You then export from Illustrator the formats you need for various situations, print, web, digital, etc.

Look, you’re getting great advice here but, as others have pointed out, the information you’ve given isn’t enough for us to be truly helpful.

I’m still confused about one fundamental aspect: Was the logo supplied as a png to you or is it yours? If it is yours, it should be built in a vector program so it can scale and change the colors to better suit the use case if you have time.

The PNG is not a print file. If you are working with a supplied logo you do what you have to do. I know how I would handle an RGB raster logo depending on timing and use case, but they’re hacks really… ultimately I would be color correcting with an adjustment tool in a CMYK document and color sampling to verify the outcome. I have known targets to hit for the color mixtures… do you?

Wish I could be more help, but this would be way easier if I could just look over your shoulder.


Agreed on all but 1

Nothing wrong with PNG for print. I use all the time.

Supply a PNG and I will print it.

PNG can be assigned a CMYK profile

Even though the base file has rgb when opened a CMYK profile can be assigned.

It’s not for the feint hearted.

But it’s possible.
But probably not recommended.


Hi, it’s my logo but it and most of the variations are in PNG format, you pay peanuts etc etc…

I’ve been using this website, have converted all of my colours and now have the CMYK values for each, my question is now, is there a way for me to build a CMYK preset profile/file so I can convert whole pictures with adobe and not having to go through changing each colour separately?

I’m afraid the converter and deltaE tool on that site aren’t very useful without additional information.

CMYK converter - which CMYK profile are colors converted to? What is the profile connection space? What is the rendering intent? Is there black point or white point compensation involved? None of that is specified nor are facilities provided to change those settings. The conversions will be inaccurate at best and useless at worst.

The deltaE tool - Which deltaE calculation is used for the tool? The most commonly used ones are in the tool’s description, but it doesn’t say which of those the tool is using and why, nor are there any facilities provided to swap between them if needed. There’s no way to know whether the deltaE is accurate without knowing which calculation is used.