In the traditional printing world, printers set up a hard-copy proof and have their customers come in to their establishment, look at the proof, and if no issues are found with color or the design, the customer is asked to sign off on the proof which tells the printer everything looks good and to proceed with the job.
But in modern day printing (much of which is now done over the Internet) things have changed.
These days, customers seem to need things much faster than before the pre-digital age, and in many cases, there simply isn't enough time for the customer to be sent a hard-copy proof for their approval. Now, more often than not, proofing is now done using an online proof.
While seeing an online proof allows you see what the item looks like and to check for typographical errors, one area that remains a challenge is color.
How colors look on-screen and how those same colors look once the item has been printed will be different. Colors seen on-screen are typically much brighter.
But perhaps the biggest challenge with an online proof is there is no way for the printer to know how the customer's computer monitor is calibrated and thus they have no way of knowing what colors the customer is actually seeing. If you've ever been in a department store, where there was a long bank of television sets all set to the same station, you likely saw some where everything looked normal, yet on other sets everything was far too red or far too green. This illustrates the challenge of proofing online.
Another challenge is with how colors are created.
On TVs and computer monitors, all the varioius colors are created using a combination of red, green and blue (RGB). But in the digital printing world, all the colors are created using a combination of cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK).
If a customer sends a file that was set up for on-screen use (RGB), the colors in their file can shift when they are printed (CMYK). So it is always best to send files where the colors have been designated using CMYK as the color model. If you are not the designer, you obviously may have no idea if the file is RGB or CMYK.
Because we want to do the best we can to give you the colors you want / need, the best way we have found to talk to customers or the designers we are working is by referring to PMS colors (Pantone Matching Systems) a system of colors that was developed for printers.
The Pantone company creates books that contain swatches (similiar to what paint companies do) that allows the customer / designer / printer to all know ahead of time what a specific shade of color is called (a PMS number). And if a designer or customer wants a specific shade of blue, they can specify PMS number that refers to that color / shade of color and then the printer knows exactly what shade of blue the item should be.
However, since most of our customers don't have PMS color books, here is a suggestion if you need a specific color / shade of color for something you want us to print / produce.
Go to a local neighborhood print shop and ask if they have a PMS color book you could look at. You want one for PMS Solid Coated colors. Find the color(s) you are looking for in the color book and then write down the PMS number(s) that represent those colors. Now there will be no doubt what colors you are looking for.
One caviot with this system is that PMS colors were developed for printers who do traditional offset printing and who work with ink as opposed to toner. With this process, the printer then mixes the inks according to the recipe for that specific color and they then will be able to create the exact shade needed.
But these days more and more printers (us included) do digital printing which uses toner to create the colors on the printed page, and some PMS colors simply cannot be achieved using the digital process. But if you are able to give us PMS colors, at least we can let you know whether or not we can achieve the colors you have given us before your item has been printed.
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