Avoiding Colour Mismatches

When creating new artwork or recreating artwork from an existing design, there are a few ways that colour mismatches can be avoided:

  • provide the printer with a previously printed sample so that they can match the colour;
  • use CMYK breakdowns for CMYK artwork only, do not pick a Pantone colour and rely on the CMYK breakdown to be identical to the pantone swatch book (or the values the customer has in mind);
  • make sure that the appropriate paper stock in the swatch book is chosen (i.e. coated, uncoated, etc) as the same colour can appear differently on various stocks and textures
  • when matching colours from a previously printed sample, be aware that embellishments such as gloss varnishes and plasticotes can make colours look richer than they were printed, and the opposite can be said for matt varnishes and plasticotes;
  • take note of the environment when colours are being chosen (e.g. a yellow cast from a light bulb causes colours to look differently);
  • never choose colours based on what they look like on-screen, as the RGB colour gamut of a monitor differs from the CMYK colour gamut of printing.

A little-known problem exists when clients choose a Pantone Colour and rely on the software’s CMYK conversion to be enough. The problem is that Quark Xpress’s version of the spot to process can be one set of values, while Adobe InDesign’s version of the same spot can be another set of values, or the printer’s RIP could have yet another set of values altogether for the same spot, or the RIP could  base it on LAB values which then get converted to CMYK. If near enough is good enough, fine… but if a customer stipulates how the colour should appear in process, use those values when preparing the artwork to begin with.

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About colmin8r
A prepress operator since 1997 specialising in Adobe InDesign.

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