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Adding CMYK Colors in Canva for High-Quality Print Designs

To add CMYK colors in Canva for print designs, use online color pickers to find CMYK values, add CMYK swatches to Brand Kits, note HEX codes, and download CMYK PDFs. Proper color management and asset controls help teams collaborate while ensuring accurate colors.

Creating visually appealing and professional designs in Canva is easy with its wide array of templates, fonts, images, and more.

While the platform is excellent for creating social media graphics, presentations, posters, and other designs for online use, designing for print requires some additional considerations – specifically when it comes to color.

Why CMYK Colors Matter for Print

First, let’s briefly explain the key differences between RGB and CMYK color modes:

  • RGB stands for Red, Green, and Blue. This is an additive color mode used for screens and digital displays.
  • CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. It is a subtractive mode used in commercial printing.
Why CMYK Colors Matter for Print

RGB has a wider gamut and produces more vibrant, luminous colors. CMYK has a more limited range and some RGB colors, especially neon or fluorescent tones, will appear duller when printed in CMYK.

This is why using the CMYK color mode is vital for print projects. It ensures the on-screen colors will match as closely as possible to the final printed output. Using RGB may lead to unexpected color shifts once a design is physically printed.

Enabling CMYK Color Options in Canva

So how can Canva users take advantage of CMYK colors when preparing designs for professional printing? Here are the steps:

1. Add CMYK Values with Online Color Pickers

While Canva is inherently RGB-based, users can input specific CMYK values using third-party online color tools like Adobe Color CC.

Simply select the color you want, note the CMYK values, and enter those codes in Canva’s custom color picker when adding brand colors or changing element colors.

2. Add CMYK Swatches to Brand Kits

Canva Pro users, as well as Admins and Brand Designers in Canva for Teams, can add CMYK swatches directly to their Brand Kits.

Navigate to the “Brand colors” section of your Brand Kit. Click “Add new color” and choose “Enter CMYK manually“. Input your desired CMYK values.

Once saved to your palette, these colors can be applied like any other for ultimate print accuracy.

Add CMYK Swatches to Brand Kits

3. Use HEX Codes for Precision

When adding brand colors or changing element colors, take note of the HEX code associated with any CMYK swatches you add.

Using the specific HEX code will help maintain print precision versus just selecting the color’s name, as the code is an exact match to the CMYK value.

4. Download CMYK Print PDFs

Once your design is ready, download a CMYK Print PDF to ensure all colors translate properly to print.

In Canva, go to “Download” > “PDF Print“. The resulting PDF will contain your design with colors converted to CMYK.

Download CMYK Print PDFs

This CMYK download option is available for Canva Pro users as well as those with Canva for Teams, Canva for Education, and Canva for Nonprofits.

Managing Brand Colors and Palettes

To maximize their brand design capabilities, Canva users can take full control over their brand colors and palettes directly within Canva.

Accessing Brand Kit Color Options

When designing in Canva, click on “Brand Kit” in the left sidebar. For Canva Pro users, individuals can access and edit their personal brand kit.

For Teams, brand management capabilities depend on the user’s role:

  • Owners and Admins can add, edit, and delete brand colors and fonts.
  • Team Members can view and apply brand assets while designing but cannot make changes.
  • Brand Designers appointed by Owners/Admins can also manage brand colors and fonts.

Editing and Organizing Palettes

Within the Brand Kit, navigate to “Colors” or “Color palettes“. Here, users can:

  • Add new colors via RGB, HEX, or CMYK values.
  • Add new palettes to organize colors.
  • Edit names, values, or codes of existing colors.
  • Move colors between palettes.
  • Delete colors or palettes.
  • Reorder palettes and colors.

Proper brand color management ensures designs stay on-brand. Especially with multiple designers collaborating, clearly defined palettes are key.

Leveraging Brand Controls (Teams)

For Canva Teams, Owners and Admins can set Brand Controls to restrict color and font access further:

  • Require team members to only use brand colors and fonts in designs
  • Turn on color or font approval to review any non-brand assets used by designers
  • Restrict access to portions of Canva’s content like elements, photos, and templates

Well-structured brand controls help maintain on-brand visuals and streamline team collaboration.

Additional Tips for On-Brand Print Designs

  • When ordering professional prints through Canva Print, keep in mind colors are automatically converted to CMYK. But reviewing your proof closely is still recommended.
  • For printing your own Canva designs, be sure to use the CMYK download and print from an application like Adobe Acrobat versus your web browser for best results.
  • When designing for print, check your colors in grayscale occasionally. This helps spot potential contrast issues that may not be visible in color.
  • Remember colors can also be changed individually on elements. Click on any object, navigate to the Color tab, and input RGB/HEX values or CMYK codes.

With a robust understanding of CMYK plus Canva’s flexible brand features, teams can create perfectly print-ready materials every time. A professional brand presence across both digital and print is achievable with the right tools and know-how!

Canva primarily uses RGB colors which are ideal for digital screens. But for getting pixel-perfect prints, using the CMYK color mode is key. This article will explain what CMYK is, why it’s essential for quality printing, and steps for Canva users to add and utilize CMYK colors in their print projects.


In summary, while Canva operates in the RGB color space, users have multiple options to incorporate CMYK colors critical for print output. This includes adding CMYK swatches to Brand Kits, using online color pickers, downloading CMYK PDFs, and more. Maintaining proper brand controls and asset management also allows teams to collaborate seamlessly while ensuring color accuracy. With the right strategy, Canva can become an indispensable tool for designing across digital and print mediums.


Why use CMYK colors in Canva?

CMYK colors are essential for print designs to ensure accurate color matching between on-screen and printed pieces. The CMYK gamut is best for physical printing.

How do I add CMYK swatches to Canva?

Canva Pro users and Canva for Teams admins/designers can add CMYK swatches by going to their Brand Kit colors, clicking “Add new color”, and entering CMYK values manually.

What’s the difference between RGB and CMYK?

RGB is an additive color mode used for digital screens while CMYK is subtractive and used for printing. RGB produces more vibrant colors but some don’t translate well to CMYK.

Can I print Canva designs with CMYK colors?

Yes, by downloading a CMYK PDF print file or using Canva’s integrated Canva Print service which automatically converts to CMYK. For personal printing, use CMYK PDFs.

Who can access brand colors in Canva Teams?

Owners, admins, and appointed brand designers can access and edit brand colors and palettes in Canva Teams. Other members can view and use brand colors when designing.

How do I download a CMYK PDF in Canva?

Go to “Download” then “Print” and select “CMYK PDF Print”. This will download your design with CMYK color conversion for printing.

What are brand controls in Canva Teams?

Brand controls allow owners/admins to restrict team access to brand assets like colors and fonts. They can require approval for non-brand elements or limit access to Canva’s content.

How do I change an element’s color in Canva?

Click on any element, go to the Color tab, and input new RGB/HEX values or CMYK codes to customize its color. You can also use your brand color palettes.

Should I use grayscale to check print designs?

Yes, occasionally checking in grayscale helps spot any potential contrast issues that may not be visible in color but could affect the print quality.

Does Canva Print convert to CMYK automatically?

Yes, Canva Print orders are automatically converted to CMYK behind the scenes. But reviewing your proof closely is still recommended.

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Last modified: February 14, 2024

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