Difference between RGB and CMYK

As a designer, doing anything in color requires you to be at least somewhat familiar with the two most common color modes: RGB (red, green, blue) and CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black). Fundamentally, RGB is best for websites and digital content, while CMYK is better for print materials.

In this article, we will discuss how these color modes affect your converted files. They are two very different color modes with limitations on how to use each. For example, trying to print a file in RGB will most likely result in a printed poster or brochure with the wrong colors.

Let's begin with a list of all the design tools and the color modes they support

  • Adobe XD supports RGB. It does not support CMYK or any other color modes.

  • Adobe Illustrator supports both RGB and CMYK. By default, it uses RGB. See how to switch between both modes here

  • Adobe Photoshop supports both RGB and CMYK. By default, it also uses RGB. Here's a guide on how to switch between color modes in Photoshop.

  • Sketch supports RGB and Display P3 (a color space within the RGB color model that represents a larger spectrum of colors than the current industry standard sRGB). By default Sketch files have an unmanaged color mode. This just means that it uses your system’s default color mode — ‘Color LCD’ on a MacBook Pro, for example. Find out more on how to manage colors in your sketch files here.

  • Figma files also have an unmanaged color mode by default. You can also switch to RGB in Figma. Here's a guide on how to do that.

  • Adobe Indesign supports CMYK by default. You can also switch to RGB.

How our converter handles color profiles for different file formats

Generally, any file you convert to Figma or Sketch will have the unmanaged color mode we mentioned previously. This is the default for every newly generated Figma or Sketch file. Although it is possible to change the color mode in both tools to RGB, our converter leaves it at the default color mode —unmanaged.

If you convert any file to Adobe Photoshop (PSD), the color mode on the PSD file will be RGB. It is generally recommended to use the CMYK color mode if your work will be printed, you can simply change it after your conversion. Use this article as a guide to adjusting the color mode of your PSD file.

Converting any file type to Adobe XD will set the color mode to RGB by default. Adobe XD does not allow for the color mode to be changed. It's RGB only.

Note: If you convert any file with a CMYK color mode to RGB, the colors may appear different. Usually, you'll have dull colors in the resulting file. To avoid this, always keep the color mode on your original file in RGB. For example, if you have an Adobe Indesign file in CMYK and you want to convert it to Adobe XD, you need to change the color mode on the Adobe Indesign file to RGB before uploading it to our website. The colors will look accurate in the resulting file.

Converting files from Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Indesign with a CMYK color mode will not result in a CMYK file. An Adobe Photoshop to Figma file conversion, for example, will produce a Figma file with an unmanaged color mode. An Adobe InDesign to Adobe XD file conversion will produce an RGB Adobe XD file since RGB is the default and only color mode supported on Adobe XD.

We recommend that you always set the color mode of your InDesign, Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator files to RGB. That way, you can fully ensure there will be no color differences.

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