Convert SVG files from RGB to CMYK

How to convert SVG files with RGB color profiles to CMYK with the help of Inkscape and Scribus.

This article explains how one can convert Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) files [1], which use the RGB color model [5] to SVG files using the CMYK color model [4] with the help of Inkscape [2] and Scribus [3]. Inkscape and Scribus are both Free (Libre) Opens Source Software (F(L)OSS) and can be downloaded and used free of charge. If you like them, consider donating to their teams!


Inkscape is a free and open-source vector graphics editor used to create vector images, primarily in Scalable Vector Graphics format. Other formats can be imported and exported. Inkscape can render primitive vector shapes and text.


Scribus is free and open-source desktop publishing software available for most desktop operating systems. It is designed for layout, typesetting, and preparation of files for professional-quality image-setting equipment. Scribus can also create animated and interactive PDF presentations and forms.

Conversion steps

  1. Create an SVG document in Inkscape. By default it will use the RGB color model.
  2. When done, go to File > Save As... and save the file as SVG.
  3. Open the SVG file in Scribus
  4. Go to Edit > Color and Fills
  5. In the Color and Fills window, select "Remove Unused"
  6. In the Color and Fills window, select the first color in the list on the left side. Then click "Edit".
  7. In the Edit Color window, set the value for Color Model to CMYK. You can use the options on the right side of the window to adjust the resulting color to a better one if neede. When done, click "OK".
  8. Repeat the two previous steps for each color in the SVG file until all colors use the CMYK color model.
  9. Once done, in the Color and Fills window, click "OK".
  10. Go to File > Export > ... Safe as PDF
  11. In the Save as PDF window, go to the Color tab.
  12. In the color tab, set the value for Output Intended For to Printer and click "Save".
The resulting file is a PDF file containing the vector information and colors in CMYK needed by printers. Of course the file is still an editable vector file which can be opened with any vector graphics software such as Illustrator, CorelDraw, and of course Inkscape. However, opening and editing in Inkscape will again leave you with a file using the RGB color model. Beware.


  1. Wikipedia on SVG
  2. Inkscape home page
  3. Scribus home page
  4. Wikipedia on CMYK
  5. Wikipedia on RGB