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Hex to CMYK Converter Online Tool and Information

HEX to CYMK Conversion is a Task every Designer needs to perform again and again. While you find the Tool that does this for you above, I'd like to go a little more in depth in this Article about how HEX to CMYK Color Conversion is actually done and what the Caveats are.

Hex to CYMK Converter
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What is HEX to CMYK color conversion?

Simply put: Computer Monitors show you HEX (or more specific: RGB) colors, while Printers can not reproduce these colors and (mostly) use the CMYK Color System instead. The Color Systems of HEX (Hexadecimal) and CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) greatly differ from each other. While the HEX Color System uses the so called "Additive Color Mixing" Method, the CMYK System achieves its colors with the "Subtractive Color Mixing" Method. In other words, HEX begins with Black as base Color and the more colors you add, it becomes lighter and lighter until its white. If you add full Red, Green and Blue the mixed Color result is the Color White.

CMYK, on the other hand, starts with White as the base Color and the more Color you add, the darker it gets. Furthermore, the HEX color space contains more colors than the CMYK color space. This means that not every HEX color is reproduceable in CMYK, which can lead to strange behaviours. If you use lots of strong, vibrant colors in your Design and later convert them to CMYK, they often look a lot less vibrant after the Conversion. This cannot be avoided, because like mentioned before, HEX can display a lot more colors than CMYK. If you want to print a vibrant color like red, blue or green for your design, especially if you want to print logos, consider using the PANTONE System, which supports a whole lot more colors than CMYK does. Most Printing services can handle PANTONE colors. They do look amazing and are standardized worldwide, which makes sense, as many big brands need to have the same colors in every location of the world, while they do not want to produce everything at the same Printer Service.

Here you see an approximation of how RGB to CMYK conversion works out:

Image Source: Wikipedia, Public Domain. Click to enlarge.

Why convert HEX to CMYK?

Designer often start designing on a screen, and later need to convert the colors to CMYK for print. Our easy Color Converter Tool helps you with this step (and our partner Site even allows you to save your colors and have an instant overview over their RGB, CMYK and HSL Values) in an instant.. We love colors, and we love converting colors for you. Our tools allows you to convert hex to cmyk in one simple step. As soon as you entered your hex value, hit the convert button right beneath the input field. You will then directly be presented the solution. As a bonus there also are the conversion results for RGB and HSL. If you have an idea or feedback for our converter, we would love to hear it. Thank you. What can I do if i don't find a good CMYK color match for my HEX color?

As mentioned before, as the CMYK Color Space is a lot smaller than the HEX Color System. Sometimes, if you convert a color to CYMK, you may not be happy with the result. Example: Let's take a vibrant violet color like #7600DE. If you convert it to CMYK and print the result on your printer, you may notice that the result is much less vibrant and may not fit your needs or even not fit the intended corporate identity. In this case you have two choices: Either you search for another CMYK color which looks more similar to your HEX color, even if the technical conversion would not lead to this choice (often it is useful to reduce of fully remove the black form your cmyk). The better way is to avoid the CMYK hassle by searching for the corresponding PANTONE color. PANTONE colors are predefinded colors which are not mixed while they are printed on paper and thus can lead to a more vibrant look. Although the PANTONE color system has fewer colors than CMYK, the single colors are able to go way beyond the CMYK color space and thus lead to a much better result.

Limitations about HEX to CMYK conversion

One important thing to point out is the fact that the Hexacedicmal Color Space is greater than de CMYK Color Space. This means that conversion from Hex to CMYK is not "lossless" because CMYK can only hold a subset of all the available Hex colors. There are some colors where you do not see any real difference, but you will see that converting some shades of Hex turquoise to CMYK will result in a much dirtier color than it should. This is a technical limitation, there is nothing you can do about this, there are just some workarounds (PANTONE or similar colors).

Pro Tip In some cases, if the conversion result does not meet your expectations, it can be helpful to choose another color in the CMYK color space, even if it is not the technically correct converted color. Sometimes this results in a color that is visually nearer than the conversion result. At our Agency, we often had best results when tweaking the colors, so that it is not the direct, "technically correct" conversion from HEX to CMYK, but instead a close neighbour which just looks better and more "correct" when printed out. Also try to finetune your colors and print them out to find the best results (make sure to use a Professional Printer which is calibrated for this task). If you only need it from time to time, a good SME Grade Laser Printer should also do the job good enough so nobody will every notice.


Frequently asked Questions

Here I'll try to discuss the most frequently asked Questions about HEX to CMYK Conversion.

  • Is HEX to CMYK Color Conversion possible?

    Yes, conversion is definitely possible, although you have to expect that colors in most cases may not look as vibrant as in HEX.

  • Why do my CMYK Colors look so dull and washed out?

    This has to do with the nature of the CMYK Color System, which has a smaller Color Space than HEX and therefore cannot reproduce as many colors as HEX. Vibrant HEX Colors often look washed out and dull in comparison to their HEX Originals. You may use a PANTONE Color instead, which has a bigger color space than CMYK and often reaches HEX Colors better.

  • Is Pantone Color Space as big as HEX/RGB?

    No, the PANTONE Color Space is about in the middle of CMYK and HEX/RGB. You will get better results with PANTONE rather than using CMYK but you will not be able to reproduce the most vibrant HEX/RGB Colors, even with PANTONE.

  • What should I do if I don't like the HEX to CMYK Color result?

    CMYK Colors may look washed out in comparison to the HEX/RGB Originals. This is normal, as CMYK cannot reproduce many vibrant colors. Try to choose similar colors instead of the direct conversion result and fine tune your color. Often, a color which is not the direct conversion result looks better and nearer to the Screen Color if printed, so make sure to test this out for a bit.

  • Who does the best HEX to CMYK Conversion?

    Although there are many services that do HEX to CMYK Conversion (as we do), Adobe has put a lot of effort in trying to emulate the best CMYK Color for every HEX Value. In the same way, the Apple macOS integrated Color Helper does a pretty nice job in converting colors to CMYK. You might see that the colors are equalized a lot, so that they do not represent the technically correct CMYK value, but instead the visually correct one. Make sure to check this out.

  • Why is HEX to CMYK Conversion so difficult?

    This has to do with the two fundamentally different color spaces. When you convert a color from HEX to CMYK, there is the technically neutral way (as we do it). But, if you consider all the custom color profiles (Like FOGRA or ISO), the tweak all the colors according to pretty complex formulas. So the conversion is actually different from profile to profile. This is why it can be so time consuming to find the best match if it really counts.

Technical Background of HEX to CMYK Conversion

From the techincal/mathematical Standpoint, the HEX to CMYK Color Converion is achieved the following way. If you have a HEX Colors, it is mostly easier to Convert it from HEX to RGB first, then Convert the RGB Color to CMYK.

Example PHP Code for RGB to HEX to CMYK Conversion

// FUNCTION for HEX to RGB Conversion function hextorgb($hexcolor) { $color = str_replace('#','',$hexcolor); // remove the # from the string $rgbcolor = array( 'r' => hexdec(substr($color,0,2)), // convert hexadecimal to decimal for Red 'g' => hexdec(substr($color,2,2)), // convert hexadecimal to decimal for Green 'b' => hexdec(substr($color,4,2)), // convert hexadecimal to decimal for Blue ); return $rgbcolor; // return the result array } // Now we have our RGB Values, let's Continue with the RGB to CYMK Conversion // FUNCTION for HEX to RGB Conversion function rgbtocmyk($array,$g=0,$b=0) { if (is_array($array)) { // if Array, assign RGB Values $r = $array['r']; $g = $array['g']; $b = $array['b']; } else { $r = $array; } $cyan = 255 - $r; $magenta = 255 - $g; $yellow = 255 - $b; $black = min($cyan, $magenta, $yellow); $cyan = (($cyan - $black) / (255 - $black)); $magenta = (($magenta - $black) / (255 - $black)); $yellow = (($yellow - $black) / (255 - $black)); return array( 'c' => $cyan, 'm' => $magenta, 'y' => $yellow, 'k' => $black, ); } // end of function // Call your Function with: $hexcolor = '#133700'; $rgbcolor = hextorgb($hexcolor); $cmykcolor = rgbtocmyk($rgbcolor); // -> there you have the CMYK Values of your color

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