How To: Using Adobe Suite to Convert RGB to CMYK in 8 Steps

If somehow you found this post but don’t own Adobe Suite programs or need additional formatting of your files, don’t forget that PufferPrint offers print formatting and E-book conversion services! Click here or email today to get started and leave the formatting to us! 


CMYK is an acronym for cyan, yellow, magenta and key (black). When a file is using CMYK color format, every color used in the file will be some sort of combination of the 3 main colors (cyan, magenta and yellow). 

Combining CMYK to print your images is a lot like painting, you start with a white canvas and add/mix these primary colors to create the color renderings you want.

PufferPrint prints your books using offset printing machines to achieve the best image-quality possible. Offset printing requires each image from your book to have a custom plate created, which acts like a “stamp.” Colors are then layered on the plate and pressed onto paper to create a final image.

RGB is an acronym for red, green, blue. A file using RGB format creates colors with the mixture of red, green, and blue, where when combined they make white (opposite of CMYK where the colors combined make black). RGB is generally used for files being viewed on the computer or screens. 

How can I convert my file?

Converting your file is pretty simple using Adobe Illustrator. This tutorial was done on a PC, though these 8 steps work the same on Mac and PC. If you don’t have Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign is a great alternative using the same steps. This can also be done in Adobe Photoshop, although this is not the recommended program and steps may look slightly different. 

Step 1:

Start by opening the Adobe Illustrator app and uploading your files. To upload click on the “Open” button on the left side of the screen (you can also go to the top left corner and click on “File.” Scroll down to “open” and click).

Step 2:

A screen will pop up prompting you to pick a file from your computer. Select the file you wish to convert and click “Open.” You can upload any file type that Adobe will allow (a .pdf file will most likely be the easiest file to upload and convert).

Step 3:

Once your file is open, you will go to “File” and click “Save As…

Step 4:

A saving screen will pop up. From here you select the destination on your computer where you want to save the document. Make sure the file type is set as Adobe PDF. Click “Save.”

Step 5:

A new Adobe pop-up will appear. Here you will change the PDF Preset from “Custom” to “PDF/x-4.”

Step 6:

These last steps are the most important. Next on the left hand side click “Output.” This will bring you to a new settings page. 

Step 7:

On this page, change the Color Conversion from “No Conversion” to “Convert to Destination (Preserve Numbers).” DO NOT change it to “Convert to Destination” unless you really know your stuff, as this will require some fiddling with colors and numbers.  

It should automatically fill out the “Output Intent Profile Name” as “Working CMYK – U.S Web Coated SWOP v2.” If the printers can send you a profile for their press, then that’s the best one to convert to. More often, however, the printer will not, or they will suggest that you use a generic CMYK profile. If you don’t know the printer profile we suggest keeping it as “U.S. Web Coated SWOP v2.”

Step 8:

Lastly, you will click “Save PDF” 

A pop-up window will appear, just click “OK” and your file will be saved to your computer. 

That wasn’t so hard, was it? If you are having trouble getting your file into the right format for printing, PufferPrint also offers a formatting service where we handle that for you. 

We want to make this process as fast and easy as possible, so you can focus more on your book. We will continue posting blogs for our “How To” series with more formatting help. Or you can take a look at our other blog posts featuring more tips and help for self-published authors. 

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