Use the Right Forces to Ensure Good Color Printing

April 20, 2012 Mike Thomson

The art of printing may be close to 2,000 years old, but even with the help of modern publishing software, there are still some key procedures you need to follow to produce pieces with the look you’re aiming for.

Color issues are frequently caused by the difference between computers and printing presses. Printing works with a 4 color process, CMYK (cyan blue, magenta, yellow, and black) while computer displays generate images using a 3 color process, RGB (red, green, and blue). The result is what you see on a monitor isn’t always what the file will look like when it’s printed.

The most frequent culprit for problems is the color BLACK.

Black is the absence of all colors. It absorbs all light. And it’s the color of the Dark Side. Make sure your printing is used only for good by following these simple rules; translations are included for the non-desktop publishing world:

1. Black text should be set to 100% black.
Black text should only use black ink to reduce the risk of blurring.

2. Black text should be set up to overprint.
When you’re printing black text on a background color, make sure your file is set to print the black text OVER the other background color. If don’t put the background color behind the text, and paper shifts even the tiniest fraction as it runs through the printer, the color of your paper is going to show through around your black text.

3. Use rich black for large coverage areas.
This means that instead of just using 100% of the color black like you do for text, you need to use a percentage of all the colors, ask your printer what mix gets them the best results. This gives your piece the right color saturation to make the black sections stand out properly on your collateral. The infographic below shows the difference nicely.

Don’t end up with blacks that look like that your favorite old concert tee!

Here Darth displays a beautiful rich black for all his fans. It's ok to be the Bad Guy after all.

4. Watch out for different tones of blacks in your collateral elements.
When more than one element uses black in your piece, such as Darth’s black helmet blending with the black background on the left, you need to check the color mix for each individual element. Again, it may look like it matches on your RGB computer display, but the printing process will pick up the different shades of black. You can check this is by using an eyedropper tool to review the color mix or look at the piece by color separation so you can see just what the black print plate looks like.

Follow these rules, and may the printing forces be with you.

Article Type: 

Previous Article
Shock Value - More Bang for Your Marketing Bucks?
Shock Value - More Bang for Your Marketing Bucks?

This past weekend my friend asked if I had seen the Spirit Airlines ad that was pulled. Given Spirit’s mark...

Next Article
#1 Key to Marketing Success: Target your Message to the Right Audience
#1 Key to Marketing Success: Target your Message to the Right Audience

Over the past couple of days, I have been presented with online and print advertisements for protein supple...


Never Miss an Update From Us

First Name
Last Name
Thank you!
Error - something went wrong!