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Radically different color between screen and print

Community Beginner ,
Oct 14, 2022 Oct 14, 2022

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Hello,

I am a graphic designer and I work a lot with Illustrator.

I often have to go through printers to print different projects/advertisements.

When I create an ad that is to be printed I pay attention to several things including:

- Be in CMYK

- Use the correct color profile (.ICC) that the printer has given me.
- Have my monitor calibrated
- and more

 

The result of the printing is never equivalent to what I have on my screen (the colors are always very different.)

I've been looking for a while but I can't find a solution.

Maybe the problem is when exporting to a pdf file? or before in the creation process?

 

In short I can't find it and I'm stuck.

That's why I'm coming to ask you the question !

 

Hopefully someone can help me,

Thanks in advance 🙂

TOPICS
Draw and design , How to , Import and export

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Community Expert ,
Oct 17, 2022 Oct 17, 2022

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Are you using color books? Like Pantone or Trumatch? For any solid areas of color in your work, it's important to choose color from a physical sample, rather than relying on what you see on screen.

 

I use Pantone books (primarily the Color Bridge guide) and choose colors from the right-hand column, which are CMYK, rather than solid/spot colors (unless the job requires that). I have loaded into Illustrator the library of swatches from Pantone that corresponds to the color book I'm using. I then choose the numbered swatches directly from that library to apply to the art. Even then, I have to allow for some shifting of colors, but it's pretty accurate when I see the final printed piece. You'll notice when you use Pantone colors, they don't always look the same on screen as they do in the book, and that's why we use them. Screens can vary a lot. Also, talk to your printer, they may have some suggestions on using RGB and converting to CMYK.

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Community Beginner ,
Oct 18, 2022 Oct 18, 2022

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@Laura Coyle.  A huge thank you for your response!

Yes I have Pantone references that I rely on for my various colors.

 

What I'm having trouble with and struggling to understand is how to prepare an Illustrator file for printing.

For example:

- If I have elements in illustrator that have different opacity, do I have to pixelize them or something before I give them to print?

- What type of PDF file is best for printing?

- How to use color profiles correctly?

- Is it better to use another software for printing (Photoshop, Indesign, ...)

 

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

 

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Community Expert ,
Oct 18, 2022 Oct 18, 2022

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Community Beginner ,
Oct 18, 2022 Oct 18, 2022

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Thanks a lot for your answer! @Mariam Hovhannesyan 😄

Yes I already do all these steps.

 

What I find strange is that in addition to all these steps, the printer told me to use a specific color profile (ISO Newspaper 26V4)

Although I know how to apply a color profile, I don't know exactly how to use it correctly 😕

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Community Expert ,
Oct 18, 2022 Oct 18, 2022

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So you need to use a newspaper profile?

Did you respect newspaper ink coverage limits in your design - that is: is the total ink coverage of the colors you set up in Illustrator below the limit (around 240% usually)?

 

You can automatically convert your colors into that profile, but afterwrds you would have to check them if there is unwanted ink in some of them (e.g. cyan ink in otherwise pure yellow and of course you will get muddy black).

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Community Beginner ,
Oct 18, 2022 Oct 18, 2022

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Thanks for your answer 🙂 @Monika Gause 

Yes exactly, I had to print an ad in a newspaper.
The file requested was a PDF.
I used the CMYK code of my company color and applied the color profile the printer gave me.

The result was that the color of my company (in this case it was blue) came out very washed out and therefore not at all like I wanted.

 

I think I made a mistake when I exported the file as a PDF.
I don't know which PDF profile is the most appropriate for this kind of printing (PDF -X4? PDF-X1 ?)
Or if you need to incorporate the color profile with the document

 

Concerning the ''newspaper ink coverage limits'' I didn't take it into account because I didn't know that it exists 
It's the first time that I printed in a newspaper, the other prints on other supports didn't give me so many problems.

 

Thanks again for your answer and have a nice day. 😄

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Community Expert ,
Oct 18, 2022 Oct 18, 2022

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Colors looking washed out is kind of normal for newspaper, because of the ink coverage limit.

Can you please tell us that color? What are the numbers?

 

So the only problem was the logo color? Or other issues as well?

 

As for the PDF preset: you will have to ask the newspaper respectively the printing service which one to use. They have their process set up and they need to tell you. Also all other specifications.

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Community Beginner ,
Oct 18, 2022 Oct 18, 2022

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Of course !

Here is the color :

C : 97

M : 66

Y : 19

K : 4

 

Some small elements were printed wrong but that's my fault, the details were too fine.
Otherwise it's only the color that was not correct.

 

Okay, so next time I'll ask them what kind of PDF they use!

 

I am attaching a picture of the newspaper.
On the right is our ad. On the left is someone else's ad.

You can see that the blue of the ad on the left is much more saturated.
It is therefore possible to print a more vibrant blue but I must have made a mistake somewhere.

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Community Expert ,
Oct 18, 2022 Oct 18, 2022

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Do you have Acrobat (Pro)?

Can you open the  PDF that you sent to the printer in it and check if the color numbers match?

 

So your color should look slightly brighter, but not much than in the photo.

 

What could have happened is that you accidentally converted color when exporting the PDF.

Or you embedded the wrong color profile and they converted it again at the newspaper.

 

First asking them about the file specifications is a good thing. If you have access to LinkedIn Learning: there are some good courses on color management.

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Community Beginner ,
Oct 19, 2022 Oct 19, 2022

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Encore une fois, merci beaucoup pour tes réponses !

 

Effectivement, après vérification sur Acrobat Pro je vois que le bleu n'a plus la même composition CMYK.

Donc est-il mieux lors ce que j'exporte mon fichier en pdf de n'inclure aucun profil colorimétrique ?

(Bien sur il faut demander à son imprimeur si c'est possible mais je parle dans les cas ou l'imprimeur n'est pas joignable de façon conventionel)

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Community Expert ,
Oct 19, 2022 Oct 19, 2022

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You need to use the profile they tell you to use in a way that the colors you set up do not get changed by accident.

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Community Expert ,
Oct 18, 2022 Oct 18, 2022

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The best information after reading all your replies I am seeing is that your colors are washed out and you are going to newsprint. While this is normal for colors to be washed out on newsprint, best you work with your printer to resolve this. How does the art you submit compare to other printing they do, if your s is worse you need to meet with them.

 

With newsprint, the stock is very porous and the color of the paper is not as pure white. Think of this like painting on a wall with one coat of color paint if you do not use primer, the colors will not be as bright. For example corrugated printing , which is for example a display case in your ALDI store the cheapest way to stop print directly on the uncoated corrugated, then colors are washed out, and you see pinholing from where the substrate has impurities that the ink did not absorb as well . You have a clay-coated display case where they put a bright white liner over the corrogated and those display cases look so much nicer and in 4-color, usually their large homegoods. Newspaper does not have that option of a white printer or liner sheet, so will never look as good as printing on quality stock. 

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Community Beginner ,
Oct 19, 2022 Oct 19, 2022

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Thank you very much for your answer!
I will continue to look at what I can do better with all this information 🙂

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Community Expert ,
Oct 18, 2022 Oct 18, 2022

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Sorry, but that tutorial is teaching how to package files, how to embed images and how to outline fonts.When saving a PDF, there's no mention of PDF/X. There is no mention of color management in that video at all. Doing prepress without even thinking of color management just does not fit into today's workflows.

 

The last time I have sent open files to a printer was back in the Nineties. The run of the mill printing serive just does not accept open files. They want PDFs.

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LEGEND ,
Oct 18, 2022 Oct 18, 2022

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The people who wrote colour guides generally do not understand anything about colour. They take a colour from screen, convert it to CMYK by the first random way they find, and set it as a standard. You're going to need to learn how to ignore the CMYK values completely. With luck there are RGB values that you can treat as sRGB , and convert to the CMYK given to you by your printer. 

Why all this? Because CMYK isn't any kind of standard colour. It's a recipe. This much cyan ink, that much magenta, so much yellow, and that much black. Now, there are different brands of ink, which are different colours. The way the printing press runs affects the colour. And especially the type of paper used. Newsprint colours are a very long way from glossy paper colours, even with the same brand of ink. In fact if you use the wrong recipe, you will get the newsprint paper too wet and it can literally fall apart. So using the right newsprint colours is not optional. Using your so called company standard could get you in very big trouble. 

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Community Beginner ,
Oct 19, 2022 Oct 19, 2022

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Thank you for your answer!
I can see that I need to communicate a lot more with my printer if I want to achieve results that match my expectations!
Thanks for all the details 😄

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