What Is Color Matching?
Here at SpeedPro Greenville, we consider color matching to be one of the most important jobs we can do for you – it’s also one of the toughest tasks. We’re here to help you take your vision from the computer screen to the real world, complete with the colors and vibrancy you envision.
It is important to realize that every person perceives variations of color differently, due to both biological and environmental factors that can change over any amount of time. For instance, the colors we see when we’re young are not exactly the same as the ones we perceive when we’re older.
Colors can also change in a game of visual “telephone” as images move from one device and monitor to another and land in front of different artists and designers along the way. The original and the final products may be off by an entire shade if too many links are in your design chain. Colors will look different based on not only the hardware but also many various settings such as brightness and contrast.
When the time finally comes to take your project to a printer, the type of technology and materials they have available—like inks and media—add more variables to how your image might turn out. Protective laminates, ink types and even a medium’s texture will have some perceivable effect on how colors appear on a finished product.
The vast array of variables at play can be almost frightening. There’s no need for that, however, as our experts at SpeedPro are here to ensure you get the proper colors translated over to your completed project. Feel free to request samples if you’re trying to achieve a specific color.
Tips For Color Matching From The Client Side
Before we get an image from you to print, there are some steps you can take as part of your design process that can help you capture the most exact colors possible:
- Make sure that glare and poor lighting conditions are not affecting your ability to see what’s on your monitor.
- Get a good, high quality LED display with strong reviews and turn all color profiles off before you start designing.
- Realize a monitor calibration is only for your own design phase and won’t match exactly when you print.
- Know that while you can design in RGB, the file will most likely be converted to CMYK for print. Printing CMYK produces better color quality.
- Document your colors using the Pantone color library. These color swatches are standards used by designers and printers worldwide.
- Make use of soft-proofing options in design tools like Photoshop to simulate a proof prior to sending your project to a printer for a hard proof.
There are two major factors that will help us in our color matching process: Color profiles and Pantones. With these profiles, we’re better able to produce the color you’re looking for.
Design and art files created digitally usually are set up with one of two primary color profiles: RGB, which stands for Red/Green/Blue, or CMYK, which stands for Cyan/Magenta/Yellow/Black. However, not every single color that we can see in reality can be perfectly reproduced with either system and colors will vary subtly as images move from the monitor to printed material.
The RGB profile is based on the optical colors of light and is the color definition utilized by digital devices such as cameras and monitors that ultimately gives us the images we see through those devices.
CMYK, on the other hand, is the color profile for pigments–the colors reflected by materials in real life. These are the four colors used in “4-color printing” that many fans of graphic design will easily recognize from the colorful pages of comic books from the 1930’s on.
Sometimes called PMS, the Pantone Matching System (PMS) consists of about 200 uniquely-identified colors. This is a standard accepted worldwide, therefore allowing printers to match precise colors and keep an image consistent throughout all steps of a printing process. (Learn even more about Pantones here.)
Due to the complexities of digital-to-physical color mapping, we can’t guarantee that we can exactly match all spot colors. However, providing Pantone numbers will be helpful as we proceed with color matching. We’ll create a digital proof for you to approve before we send your graphic to the printer, and we can create a physical sample as well if needed.