Convert to CMYK in Procreate

I can guarantee you that one or both of the following things will happen in your Procreate future (if not already that is…)

You created a design you’re really proud of, but you made it in RGB colour format and you need to convert it to CMYK so that you can print it out.

Or…

You created a design at a high resolution with large dimensions. You want to post it online or send it to someone, but the exported file is too big! You need to scale down the size of the image to reduce the filesize.

There is no way to change the document settings on an existing canvas in Procreate.

This is a very common issue so we need to find a workaround. See the video below for how to do it (including an option to preserve your layers from the original too!)

Summary of steps to convert from RGB to CMYK or vice versa.

Step 1 : Find out the settings of the existing RGB canvas (ie. dimensions and resolution). You can find this under the ‘canvas information’ panel from the Actions tab (wrench icon) / Canvas menu

Step 2 : Create a new document with the same dimensions and resolution but change the colour format

Step 3a : If you are finished the design, Export a image (jpg or png) from the original canvas and save it to your iPad

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Step 4a : Import the image into the new colour format document you just created

OR 

Step 3b : copy and paste each individual layer from the original design into the new document. 

Step 4b : Reapply any opacity settings or or layer masks as they won’t be automatically copied over. 

Step 5 : important! If you are converting from RGB to CMYK, export a .psd file from the new canvas. You’ll see the colour changes quite noticeably when you export the image. 

In the case of the 2nd situation, and reducing the exported file size of an image, you would follow the same steps, only for the new canvas you would reduce the dimensions and/or resolution to reduce the exported image file. Note, don’t go under 300dpi for print and 96dpi for digital.

I hope you enjoyed today’s tutorial and it helps you feel confident you can make necessary setting changes to your artwork if required without leaving Procreate.

This video got a lot of comments on YouTube about the colour conversion making their artwork dull. Please see this follow up video where I show you how to make the CMYK version more vibrant!

4 replies on “Convert to CMYK in Procreate

  • Patrice

    Thanks for this info. Can you tell me a reason why you would need to convert and image to a different color profile, if it’s going to change the color so much. It doesn’t seem useful. I know Im probably missing some important info. I did this once and the printer had a terrible time getting my original colors to print after saving as CMYK and the entire point of my image was color based. All the pinks looked orange etc, which did not work for me. So I’ve gone back to just using RGB profile. I have needed to scale down an image due to size restrictions. This was great help. I want to understand what kind of scenario would occur to make me want to go to CMYk. Thank you so much.

    Reply
    • Nicole Mauloni

      Hi Patrice! Thanks for your question… If you’re working digital only, you can use RGB. But if you want to print something out the artwork should be in CMYK. The RGB format holds a LOT more colours than is actually possible to produce when printing, that’s why there is often a discrepancy between what you see onscreen in RGB and what is printed out in CMYK. It’s a good idea where possible to create your design using a CMYK palette from the beginning. That way you’re working with a more accurate representation of the finished result once printed! Hope that helps!

      Reply
  • Andrea

    When you save the image in step 5 and see that the color has muted, is that the way it’s going to print? How do you make it print with the original color intention after you change to CMYK? Sorry if I’m missing something!

    Reply
    • Nicole Mauloni

      Hi Andrea, thanks for your question. This is something a lot of people ask, so I’m glad to explain further. The issue here is that if you were using an “RGB” (Red, Green, Blue) colour palette when you created the image, you were actually using a digital only palette that a printer can’t produce. The CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) conversion dulls the colour tone because it is converting those digital colours into ones the printer will be able to replicate, giving you a more accurate representation of how your design will look when printed out.

      If you own photoshop, you could bring your image in there and use the adjustments feature to brighten it slightly and future tweak the tone. A lot of people don’t however, so I’m working on a tutorial now that has another solution. Keep your eyes out if that’s of interest!

      Reply

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