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Why Monitor Colors and Printed Colors Differ
Have you ever experienced creating data in software like Illustrator or PowerPoint, only to find that the printed output looks completely different? Or perhaps you were told by a printing service that color correction was necessary? If so, you’re not alone!
Understanding the reasons behind the discrepancy between monitor colors and printed colors is crucial when it comes to printing. In the following explanation, we break down the differences between the RGB format used on monitors and the CMYK format used in printing. We also delve into the concept of “color calibration” for previewing colors in advance.
Why Do Colors Differ in the First Place?
- Difference in Color Spaces:
Monitors use the RGB color space, while printed materials use the CMYK color space. This difference can lead to variations between colors observed on the monitor and those seen in the final printed output.
- Variations in Display Environments:
Monitors vary in color representation, and factors like lighting conditions and reflections in the surroundings can further influence color display.
- Profiling Issues:
The printing company’s choice of printing equipment, paper, ink, etc., can result in variations in color presentation. Consequently, colors in images created on a monitor may differ from those in the actual printed material.
Due to these factors, it’s common for colors observed on a monitor to differ from those in the final printed output. When creating images for printing, it’s essential to conduct printouts for actual color representation and make adjustments as needed.
What Are RGB and CMYK?
In simple terms, they are “color space models” for representing colors.
- RGB (Red, Green, Blue):
Combines these three colors to represent a wide range of colors suitable for on-screen color representation. It is commonly used in monitors, smartphones, and other screens.
- CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black):
Uses these four colors to represent colors suitable for printing. It is commonly used in printed materials such as posters and other prints.
While RGB provides vibrant on-screen colors, it may not accurately represent colors in print. On the other hand, CMYK, with a narrower color range on screens, can better represent actual colors in print.
What Is Color Calibration?
Color calibration refers to correcting the color of images or videos to make them accurate. It aims to compensate for color variations caused by cameras, monitors, printers, etc. Color calibration plays a crucial role in fields like photography, graphic design, and filmmaking. When printing, options such as “on-site and paper calibration” or “digital proofs” are often used.
- On-site and Paper Calibration:
Involves calibrating against the actual printed paper, providing an accurate understanding of color and print quality. However, it is time-consuming.
- Digital Proofing:
Utilizes digital data for calibration, enabling a faster process. However, actual print quality may differ.
The choice between these calibration methods depends on project goals and deadlines. It’s important to note that color adjustments are usually made by the data creator after calibration. Multiple iterations of color calibration may be required until the desired color balance is achieved. While some printing companies offer calibration services, manual adjustments by craftsmen can lead to significantly higher costs.
Understanding color well not only prevents “oops” moments during actual printing but also allows for thoughtful consideration of color during the design phase. At Grap, we offer optional “color calibration” services for offset and on-demand printing. Feel free to consult with us, even for small-scale projects.
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