Computer monitor colours and printed colours may often be quite different — which is a challenge when you are trying to match a certain colour. Colours can also appear different from monitor to monitor.

Image colours on a monitor are influenced by a variety of factors:

  • The colour range, called the colour gamut, of the input device (such as the scanner or camera)
  • The manufacturer and age of the monitor
  • The monitor’s brightness and contrast settings

When you print an image, you introduce other factors that influence colour:

  • The quality and absorption properties of the paper
  • The colour gamut of the printer
  • The conversion of RGB values from the monitor to the CMYK values of the printer’s ink

This conversion is a challenge because of the different approaches to colour between monitors and printers.  Because monitors use light to display colour, they use additive colours—when you add them together, they produce white.  Conversely, when you remove all monitor colours you produce black.  Because printers use ink to display colour, they use subtractive colours — when you remove colours, you produce white, and when you add all printer colours you produce black.  As a result, monitors and printers have different colour gamuts.  Although they share many of the same colours, there are some colours a monitor can display that a printer can’t print and some colours a printer can print that a monitor can’t display.

Given all the factors that go into producing colours, how do you go about making colours accurate and consistent? Try these options:

  • You can calibrate your monitor every few months.
  • You can get to know the differences between your monitor’s colours and your printer’s colours so you can adjust your images as needed. You can do this by printing out several photos or other images and comparing them to the image on-screen. For example, your printer may always print colours darker than your monitor displays them. Knowing this, you can modify the lightness of your images accordingly.

What can I do to help my designer match my colours?

  • Provide a colour swatch, Pantone colour code (see colour swatches here) or mood board with your colour preference
  • Speak to your designer before designs are done.  Once designs are signed off and printed, clients will be charged the additional cost for reprints 
  • Be realistic.  Based on the above explanations, we will always try to match your colours as close as possible
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