Convert images to CMYK

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This topic contains 14 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  David Blatner 3 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #64787

    Is there a way to convert all my images to CMYK with indesign?

  • #64820


    You can output via a profile in the Export dialogue, but unless you are comfortable with how ID handles colour conversion I would change them in Photoshop.

  • #64827

    David Blatner

    Salieri: InDesign uses exactly the same technology to convert RGB images to CMYK! The vast majority of InDesign users should be importing RGB images into InDesign, and then exporting CMYK PDF files to send to a printer.

    If you choose the PDF/X-1a pdf preset, for example, that will automatically convert all RGB images to CMYK. (There are higher-quality ways to do it, using a different CMYK target profile, but the set one is fine for most folks, most of the time.)

    I need to write a blog post about this. I’m amazed that so many people still convert to CMYK before importing into InDesign!

    • #95875

      Dunya Petros

      How to convert the images to CMYK now? David, can you please make a video about it and show us?

      Thank you

  • #64834

    Gert Verrept

    David, pls do so. For those interested, a few sites where lots of info can be found:, a Belgian site (in English) which knows a lot about pdf and settings for conversions;, ghent workgroup, has some great testing tools for pdf output;, European Color Initiative, if your looking for european settings, this is one of the places to be

    and I’m sure I’m forgetting some

  • #64837

    Haeme Ulrich

    In addition to gert – as a Swiss Boy I have to promote our
    This is part of – sometimes faster for new standards.

  • #64839


    David, I still wouldn’t advise anyone but advanced artworkers to convert from InDesign, even if the technology is the same, as there are too many pitfalls for the unprepared. If an artworker is happy to use an RGB workflow without considering the whole document, what will happen to the glorious red text in her image that brand guidelines specifies should be 0 100 100 0? Under PDF/X-1a that will be thrown out as 0 95 85 0. Not to mention the vector RBG logo she’s pulled in from Illustrator, for a start it will be wrong and unless she’s dug through the menus to find the profile settings in Illy and Photoshop, the conversion wont be the same even in those programs.

    So even though the strict answer to the OP’s question is ‘yes, that’s fine’ I think there’s a minefield waiting for those who merrily pick a PDF standard and export without thinking it end to end. Perhaps your blog post can be titled ‘Holistic Colour Management’…

  • #64842

    David Blatner

    Salieri, you bring up some interesting points, but very few people require specific CMYK values for branding inside a photographic image, or use RGB vector images (which I do not recommend in general). There are other times when converting to CMYK before importing into InDesign is helpful, too (for example, there is some color retouching that is impossible to do when the image is still in RGB). But again, this is not common.

    The vast majority of InDesign users want to place photographic images on their pages and have high-quality output (whether it is print or on-screen). RGB images is the way to go for this process for almost everyone.

  • #64860

    Gert Verrept

    RGB is fine, but if you have to print it, it becomes a CMYK question. I think you have to decide what the output will be before starting. Using RGB images in an RGB workflow os ok, but not for printing. A lot of people get disappointed when looking at the results when the conversions went the wrong way. I rarely use the specific CMYK values in logo’s, pantone colors a much better choice. Pantone Bridge ca help you when it has to be converted anyhow. The “preserve number” is very important too in the conversion proces. What the pdf-standards in adobe do is fine, but no completely correct. The sites I mentioned above (and surely some others) indicate clearly what to do and how to do it.
    As professional,I think it’s our concern to make the best possible pdf for print or web. Fiddling with conversions in Photoshop before importing images can be avoided by using to right conversion standards in Indesign. A lot of people are not familiar with Photoshop, so it can get worse in stead of better. If an image has a profile attached, change it or use it, if it has none, the output will always never be good.
    Of course, I’m only using European standards as I live in Belgium.

  • #64861


    In my experience most companies will have in their library a CMYK version of their logo for 4 colour printing, a spot version for when it’s appropriate and an RGB one for web, Word and Powerpoint templates. The brand manager will just throw them at you when you request them and its up to you to use them appropriately. If an artworker has got the idea that an RGB workflow is AOK, then there’s no reason why she wouldn’t pick up the RGB version and then convert it, which will lead to an awkward conversation when the prints are delivered.

    After a few years doing this and nearly daily excursions to this site and Lynda I’m pretty sure I would walk off a bridge if David or Anne-Marie told me to, so I think it’s important that novice users don’t get the wrong ideas!

  • #64880

    Gert Verrept

    I not sure that telling users to use RGB in Indesign and afterwards converting it into a good printable pdf (using the right settings of course)is wrong. I’m in the pdf-world almost from the start and we’re now using pdf/x-4 in our CMYK workflow without problems with colors shifting.
    However, I admit that color management isn’t easy, it can be a nightmare. It can go wrong in a hundred of places. Proofing is essential, as is knowing what must be the end result.

  • #71603

    Nick Cuccia

    David: Did you ever write that blog??!! I see there are differences of opinion about this. I ask now because a student in my class has asked about converting all her images to CMYK before placing in InDesign. We have advocated for this, with the caveat that some filters in PS are not available in CMYK. I also came across this video tutorial which has good examples of file types and how they’re handled on export and recommends a method in InDesign to handle them. Any more thoughts on this? Thanks!

  • #89652

    Thord Lind

    I tried to follow the video but “All spots to process” is grayed out and can’t be checked. Why is that?

  • #89677

    Thord, it just means you don’t have any Spot colors in your document.

  • #95880

    David Blatner

    Dunya and Nick and everyone: Yes, I did write some articles about this… and I also recorded some videos at Learning… here are the videos:

    Here’s how to make a great PDF file:

    Here’s all you need to know about color management in InDesign:

    Here are 2 articles to read:

    Why You Should Import RGB Images Into InDesign and Convert to CMYK On Export


    RGB Workflow from Photoshop to Final PDF

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