Lots of things affect the way colours appear and so it is not always possible to get an exact match. In this document, Geoff from Premonition design explains why sometimes what you see is not what you get.
Spot colours don’t match process colours. Spot colours are mixed up in a bucket like paint. They are often used when printing in two colours – on letterheads, for example. The printer then puts this coloured ink into his machine. Process colours, on the other hand are used when you print in full colour, required for colour photos, and are a mixture of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black inks. Tiny dots of these inks are printed on the paper in varying sizes – these dots make up the different colours. If you look very closely at a colour picture in a newspaper you’ll see these dots.
Using spot colours enables you to achieve special colours like metalics, fluorescents and very vivid colours. Process colours allow you to faithfully reproduce photographs. Spot colours and process colours will not match
Different paper equals different colour
The same ink colours will look different when printed on different papers. This effect is most noticeable when the same colour is seen on Glossy and letterhead paper. The colour on letterhead paper looks much duller. Try it yourself by marking a newspaper, letterhead and magazine page with a felt tip pen. The same ink on different papers will not match
On-screen colours are off-target colours
Colours you see on screen are never the same as those you see on a printed page. Screens make up colours by using glowing phosphors in Red Green and Blue varieties. Full colour printed paper uses inks that are Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. What you see onscreen is often wildly different to what you’ll see on the printed page.
My screen’s better than your screen!
Colours vary widely from monitor to monitor. There are a host of reasons. Different brightness or contrast settings. How old your monitor is and who made it. Different software colour-matching. (Windows has some colour matching built in.) Even the same file viewed in different applications will probably look different.
So what can we do about it?
Well, at Premonition we work very hard to make sure the colours in your work are consistent and well reproduced. We take care when scanning images that we capture as much detail in the originals as possible. We then adjust contrast carefully to preserve the important detail while giving the pictures the right amount of ‘punch’. We check process and spot colours against special printed ‘swatch books’. Most of all, we apply our experience of thousands of successful print jobs to ensure that you get the best from your colours.