Monday, March 01, 2010

Convert Illustrator artwork to grayscale

I'm often asked how to turn full color Illustrator artwork into a grayscale equivalent. This is simple if you know where to look:

1. Open your color .ai or .eps file in Adobe Illustrator CS3/CS4

2. Select the artwork that you want to convert to grayscale

3. Choose Edit > Edit Colors > Convert to Grayscale

That's all there is to it. If the colors in your original artwork don't map to pleasing grays, you can try one or more of the following to adjust the tonal values of the grays:

* Convert your file from CMYK to RGB or vice versa by choosing File > Document Color Mode before you convert it to grayscale. Even though the colors may not look much different in RGB or CMYK on the screen, they will convert to different grayscale tones.

* Choose Edit > Edit Colors > Adjust Color Balance before or after you convert the artwork to grayscale

* Choose Edit > Edit Colors > Saturate after you convert the artwork to grayscale.


melinjo said...

is there any way to convert artwork to grayscale or cmyk from indesign?

Keith Gilbert said...

@melinjo: There's no feature in InDesign for converting artwork to grayscale, like in Illustrator. There's a plugin from Rorohiko called "Color2Gray" that will convert placed color images to gray. Or, there is a "hack" that will allow you to create a grayscale PDF from any color InDesign layout. See

Unknown said...

Thank you this was very helpful!

Esther Weinberg said...

is there a way to adjust the grayscale so that you only get black and white?

Keith Gilbert said...

@es: If what you are looking for is a way to map all the gray tones lighter than a certain gray to white, and all the gray tones darker than a certain gray to black, you could use the Edit > Edit Colors> Recolor Artwork command to do this.

Raven said...

I tried this in CS4. The .AI vector art looks gray on screen, but the title says "" (CMYK/Preview). It still reproduces as a CMYK file and not Grayscale.
I can't place this into a 2 spot colour document. What to do?

Anonymous said...

I would like to knw if there is any script to convert a eps file from color to greyscale.

Anonymous said...

@es: or Edit > Edit colors > Adjust color balance and slide RGB up to 100% for each