All us designers here at Ignite love to spend the time and effort getting your artwork just right. Therefore we do our very best to make sure all the details and colours are exactly as how we intended. Yet sometimes it’s the love of colours that can produce the biggest problems!
On occasions professionally printed colours can vary slightly from the PDF proofs clients view on their computer screen, and whilst we do our best to make sure these kinds of instances are kept to a minimum, the procedures we use can sometimes result in slight alterations.
Whilst I will try my best not to baffle you all with science I hope you see this article as a small, concise and beautifully formed ‘Potted Guide’ to the processes involved in the creation & production of your artwork!
Consider your sweet 42″ flat screen.
The way it works is by mixing 3 separate coloured beams of light:
When mixed at their highest densities, Red, Green & Blue light combine to form white light. A process called ‘Additive’.
Computer screens work exactly the same. Any coloured image or text, whether created or viewed on a TV, computer screen or other device will be composed of this additive RGB. This method is capable of producing millions of colours.
- Black (refered to as Key)
All modern commercial printing presses and home-use printers reproduce artwork by compositing colour inks on paper.
Whereas TV’s & Monitors give off light – inked paper absorbs light: a process called ‘Subtractive’. The inks act as filters, changing the amount and colour of the light that is reflected by the paper.
CMYK is able to produce a wide range of colours, however it is still way below the amount RGB is able to portray.
RGB to CMYK
Because RGB artwork needs to become CMYK artwork before it can be printed, it has to undergo a conversion. The computer programme handling the file usually performs this operation.
The programmes we use here at Ignite are specifically for this purpose of colour conversion. RGB is converted directly to CMY. The programme then calculates how much K to add to adjust the brightness & hue in the individual colours, thus producing the correct printed colour to that portrayed on screen.
Whilst this conversion goes rarely unnoticed on the computer screen, it can at times produce small colour variations in the final printed article simply as a result of both the conversion process and the inability of CMYK to reproduce the full spectrum of RGB.
CMYK to Print
By now I’m sure you’re scratching your head wondering how it all got so complicated? Rest assured, all of us here at Ignite are specialists in what we do, and we make sure that all artwork that leaves our studio is 100% perfect!
You too can do your bit to ensure your brand is portrayed in its best colours by following a few essential pointers:
- Have a printer at home? Chances are that if you are printing proofs off on your home or office printer is that the colours will vary widely from those on screen. Why? Home printers cost a maximum of a few hundred quid and are great for printing office documents or family photos but shouldn’t be trusted to give the best colours. Professional printers cost in the region of a few thousand pounds and are specifically designed for large scale professional print runs with minimal colour distortion.
- Cheaper printing may put pennies back in your wallet, but in our experience often results in a poorer quality of printing having a detrimental effect on your brand colours. Our advice: Choose your printer wisely – Think before you print!
- If you are at all concerned about colour issues then feel free to ask your professional printer to supply either a digital proof or a more expensive ‘wet proof’ for exact colour matching. It may be a little extra money but allows you to view an exact printed article so any problems can be identified and put right! Essential when you are looking at producing thousands on a print run!