Your custom-printed labels just arrived, but you are surprised that the color doesn't look the same as you had seen on the digital screen.
Why would that be? The main reason for this is basic science. While screens emit light, printed material relies on ink mixing and absorption. This is why screens can display a wide range of colors while printed materials have their limitations.
There will always be slight differences in color appearance between digital and printed versions. It is important to understand the factors leading to this color variance.
Let's have a look.
Digital screens, like computer screens or cameras, use red, green, and blue (RGB) color spaces. In contrast, printers use Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (CMYK) colors.
The printer uses different proportions of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black ink to replicate the screen colors. CMYK layers the colors one at a time to obtain the desired outcome.
Not all RGB colors have an exact match for CMYK. Hence, the colors shown on digital screens will not be the same as in print media, even if they might appear the same.
The calibration of a digital screen differs from that of a printer, resulting in color variance during printing. Color calibration helps the printer produce uniform colors under specific environmental circumstances using printheads, inks, and paper types. But the calibration of printers and digital screens can't be matched precisely.
As mentioned previously, screens emit light while printouts reflect it. This may cause a difference in perception of the color.
Without a light source, one cannot see colors; hence, a light source is required. But if the light sources have different qualities, there will likely be color differences.
The test of color vision is done by setting it in common light sources. Factors like the amount of additional light presented and the direction from which the light comes also impact color perception.
The appearance of the same color printed on different materials may vary because the color appears different on different materials.
The appearance of the printout depends on
- Type of material of the paper that is used for printing purposes.
- Finishing of the paper
The material types can be paper, vinyl, or fabric. The finishing of the paper or material can be glossy, matte, etc.
The texture of the paper differs, too. Ink colors applied to coated paper appear sharper and more vibrant because the ink lies at the top of the coating. It appears dull and less vibrant on uncoated paper because it gets absorbed into the fiber of the paper. If the paper has a rough and glossy surface, it will reflect diffusely, making the color appear light.
Colors can be tested in environments with natural light. The lighting conditions of the room can impact how colors are seen. Also, paper can absorb moisture. So, humidity and temperature changes can negatively affect a paper's weight, thickness, and rigidity.
This is why carpet or paint samples are generally given out to take home to check in settings where they would be used.
How can the color variance be minimized?
A physical sample of the color can make it much easier to match the colors rather than depending solely on a digital image. The sample printout can be better matched during printing.
You can also get the artwork. But remember that even with a real sample taken from a different printer, the color may still differ from printer to printer. Even the final color output may vary depending on the ink or paper used in the printer.
Therefore, it is important to understand and accept that slight color variance is always possible when printing. However, working with a trustworthy printing service provider and clearly expressing color expectations is crucial for the best possible outcome.
It is not easy to achieve 100% color accuracy in printing, as there are many issues to consider. It is important to understand these differences and choose your printing partner smartly.