Thursday, 30 November 2017

How to make colour look wonderful in print...

Everyone wants their printing to look bright, and vibrant. 
But the problem is screens work in 3 colours, whereas printing is made up of 4. 
This difference changes everything. And can cause big problems.

I'll cover how to design your artwork with wonderful colour in this article, and look at ways to alter the finished print, using different paper stocks and finishes.

What's the difference between RGB and CMYK?
CMYK and RGB are fundamentally different.
CMYK (used in print) uses cyan, magenta, yellow and black (key) in layers to create a complete, full-colour image. RGB (used on screen) uses red, green and blue light to create digital images.
These are very different colour palettes. And while both can make up almost any colour, they do it a totally different way.
I've gone in-depth in this article if you're interested in the technical differences...

Simple ways to design with wonderful colour

  • Rule number one is to maintain your colourspace at all times. Your computer will attempt to interpret RGB in a CMYK colourspace (and vice-versa), but each time you do this you're changing the image. You'll find RGB images look washed out if you convert them to CMYK badly, and by pulling artwork in and out of different colour spaces you're effectively degrading the image. Your final print will end up looking atrocious. 
  • There are a thousand ways to make up any given colour, and with CMYK you need to remember each colour strand (C, M, Y and K) is a different ink being applied to the paper. CMYK colours are made up of a percentage of each ink (ie C=100% M=20% Y=39% K=80%). Making a colour with too high a percentage can cause problems with your printing. Most printers recommend your colours are as 'clean' as 230% max for colours, and 140% for blacks. 
  • It should go without saying that remembering the basics is pretty critical. But we get lots of orders supplied in RGB. Clearly, to achieve the best colour results in print, you need to design and supply your artwork in CMYK! 

How different paper stock affect colour in print

The paper you order your printing on makes a massive difference to how your colour will appear.
This is because ink sinks into the page at different rates with different stocks.

  • Uncoated paper allows the ink to sink into the paper, causing colours to look more muted and less vibrant than coated stocks. It's part of its charm and can be used effectively to create rustic, natural looking printing. 
  • Glossy stock is coated, allowing the ink to sit 'on' the page more. This creates more vibrant colours and vivid images. 
  • Silk stock is the middle of the road paper - it's coated, meaning ink doesn't absorb too fast but doesn't show colours as rich as glossy stocks do. 

How gloss, matt and soft-touch lamination changes colour...

Adding a laminated finish to your printing also changes the colour of your print. Lamination is a cellophane film applied to the outside of your printing.

  • Matt lamination dulls colours down slightly and makes the paper feel smooth and silky. 
  • Gloss lamination makes colours more vivid. If you're looking for vibrancy you can't get better than a nice gloss lamination. Think postcards and magazine covers...
  • Soft touch lamination dulls colours down in a similar way to matt lamination. It feels like a thicker lamination and has an almost velvety finish to it. 

Want more ideas? Check out our blog.

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