Most designers and marketers can relate to the experience: you see a beautiful color on your computer screen, but you get the printed materials back and they just aren’t the same: duller, brighter, or just off, perhaps. The reason is ineffective color management. The color you’re seeing on your computer will almost never be the same as the one you see in print. As a printing company, we’ve experienced it many times. For example, in checking out a newly branded logo for a client, we checked the color with them, noting it was a robin’s egg blue on the output. Not so – the color should have been aqua, but because of the material it was being printed on and the technique being used, it was off. We were able to remedy it before a single thing went to print, all because we were checking on colors throughout the process.
Effective color management ensures that everyone from your graphic designer to the printer to the end customer is seeing the color in the same way. It ensures that your printer is using the proper technique to go from screen to printed material in a way that remains consistent with your brand and consistent across all media. Since different uses can require different color application methods, early check-ins for color management with your printer can help ensure the process is correct and can save you time and money in the printing and manufacturing stage by getting you the right result every time.
A few specific problem colors make color management particularly important. If you’re using rich greens, hot purples, deep reds, bright greens, oranges or purples or fluorescent yellow, pink or turquoise, be particularly stringent about your color requirements, as these are tough to get exactly right in print.
As you prepare your next set of files for pre-print, here are our top three suggestions for color management during the printing process:
- Work with Your Printer: This is our number one tip and the reason it’s always good to work with a local printer with whom you have a relationship. If you have the chance to look at samples of your work before they’re sent to press, or to discuss the colors with your printers, you’ll have a better chance of each printed item looking on-brand. Plus, as you develop a relationship with your printer, they will become inherently familiar with your brand standards and the process will eventually be effortless on your part as they are able to color-correct throughout.
- Apply the Right Technical Settings: A variety of circumstances and settings in Photoshop, can affect the accuracy with which you’re seeing colors on screen. Check out tips here, here and here to develop the best work and computer settings for the maximum accuracy.
- Set Up Your Work Environment Properly: If you do a lot of graphic design, it makes sense to ensure that your work environment is maximized for color management. Consider adding a viewing booth with 5,000OK color-corrected bulbs. Both fluorescent lights and daytime-corrected lights can affect the way you’re viewing a color; these bulbs help to keep everyone’s vision aligned. Calibrate your desktop monitor to ensure it’s meeting industry standards. And keep your monitor in a room with no sunlight and walls painted a neutral color to ensure outside forces aren’t affecting your interpretation of color.