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Print colours are different than my screen



Print colours are different than my screen​

This question comes up quite often in the print industry, and we understand why. It’s not something the general public will learn about or really need to know to get on with day to day life, but to those who are fussy will generally notice. So, what’s the problem?

As colour management can become a huge topic and many, many pages long I’ll keep this article simplified so you can understand why.
Monitors or any screen (laptop, tv, phone ect) use light to create colour (RGB/Red, Green, Blue) but printers use the brightness of the material it’s printing on (white) and add ink (CMYK/ Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) to create colour by subtracting light and therefor create black.
Because they both use different processes to create colour, the colour spaces for a monitor and a printer are both different. As you can see with the colour spectrum in the post that the RGB can produce a lot more overall colour than CMYK.

Manufactures actually calibrate their monitors, but to their own specification for the end user to enjoy more visually pleasing colour. So different branded monitors will look different from one and other. You can see this if you get 2 different branded laptops with the same image on each screen and bring them side by side. The first thing you’ll see is one may be bluer than the other or the other is more yellow. Can you make then both the same? Yes, you can calibrate them both with a special device called a “Spectrophotometer” but it’s not necessary unless you’re a graphic designer or a photographer.

Does this mean if my monitor is calibrated, the prints will look the same compared to my monitor? Yes and no, First the printer also needs to be calibrated and not all print shops have their printers calibrated unfortunately. Fortunately for you, ours are! But it’s always good to ask. If they’re not calibrated it’s not the end of the world because not all print work needs accurate colours.
But if your print came off a calibrated printer, then there’s a good chance it’ll look very close to your monitor. If your image has “out of gamut” colours, which means colours that your monitor can produce but the printer cannot produce, the printer will print the closest colours possible to the out of gamut colours. Again, you can see this on the colour spectrum chart.

So now to answer the original question, the problem is that the monitor and printer cannot reproduce all the same colours as each other so the printer will compromise.

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