Blog Color Management Design Fun Marketing Photography Video

Four Color Televisions? Really??


When i first saw this commercial I laughed. What will they try to sucker us into next?


How do they think they are going to take an RGB signal, therefore RGB color gamut, and create more pixel information and re-create more of an image that was never there to begin with?

My guess is they’re taking the red and green signals and just amplifying the two together to create more yellow. This will alter the white point, or color temperature, of the screen and never match any color.

How can you add an additional color to additive color theory? What will the additive color purists think?

Most people, however, prefer a blue/white appearance because if appears brighter. We have all seen this case with paper for commercial color printing. Optical brightening agents in paper manufacturing create the blue/white finish of paper. The paper ‘appears’ brighter, but in reality it’s just ‘bluer’.

In the subtractive color world, only so much light can be reflected off the surface of the paper. Therefore, if the paper was neutral in ‘whiteness’ it would appear dirty with more yellow being added instead of blue.

Inkjet printers now use as many as 12 colors to create beautiful color prints. This is understandable because using just CMYK can not create the same gamut as RGB.

Personally, I would rather have a sharper image with great contrast over ‘cartoon’ color.

What do you think?

Blog Design Marketing Printing

When to Print Digital Versus Offset Printing

There are three factors in making a decision to print a brochure on a digital press versus printing on an offset press.

  1. Quality. There is little doubt that offset printing is better in terms of resolution. Photos, screen tints and gradient screens are far superior printed with a metal plate on an offset press. Contrary, a digital press will have a slightly larger color gamut due to the nature of the toner (digital ink) being fused to the substrate. This method of digital printing will provide brighter colors on uncoated stocks. Overall, the resolution and crispness of type/screens on an offset press far exceeds digital printing to the trained eye.
  2. Turnaround time. Hands down, digital printing is the choice. Without having to make expensive metal plates and time consuming ‘press makeready’, the ability of digital printing to output a single press sheet, without metal plates or ‘press makeready’, is a tremendous advantage. On the downside, the slower speed of a digital press makes longer runs more time consuming than an offset printing.
  3. Price. The major price difference between printing digital versus printing offset is the quantity. Lesser quantities will favor printing digital, while larger quantities will favor printing offset. The ‘per unit’ price of a digital printed piece will be higher than offset. However, the expense of making plates and ‘press makeready’ with offset will cause the ‘per unit’ price to be linear – as the quantity goes up, the ‘per unit’ price goes down. Finding the price intersection is the key.

As you can see, there are many variables to consider printing digital versus printing offset. There is no clear-cut decision. If quality is paramount, stick with offset and pay a little more. If you’re just looking for 50 brochures, digital printing is your choice.

You can see the numbers yourself. has an instant pricing calculator for both offset printing and digital printing. Use the instant pricing calculator to determine when to use digital printing versus offset printing.


Blog Printing

Gamut! Why Sky Blue Prints Purple On Press

I’m sure everyone has seen it before: highly saturated digital photography (RGB image), however the sky blue prints purple on press. The resulting color is a product of the color gamut your commercial printer prints to or the profile of your inkjet printer.

The rich, blue hue of the sky looks very surreal on screen because of a polarizing filter or just using a wide color gamut such as Adobe RGB. However, when these rich images get converted into a smaller CMYK color gamut, such as SWOP, the rich blue prints purple because those colors are not available in this particular CMYK gamut.

A better solution is to work with a commercial printer that prints to a higher standard CMYK color gamut. prints to the GRACoL color standard, which contains more shades of blue for the rich RGB image to get converted into, especially Adobe RGB.

Below is a comparison of the two CMYK color gamuts – SWOP and GRACoL:

sky blue prints purple
Deeper shades of blue are not available in a smaller CMYK color gamut causing deep blue prints purple.
sky blue prints with GRACoL color gamut
Printing with a larger color gamut, GRACoL, allows for rich blue RGB images to be converted to more accurate deep blues.

Always be aware you have choices when choosing a commercial printer.

Has this happened to you? What did your printer tell you was the problem? Please leave your comments below…


Blog Design File Prep Printing

Printing Screen Captures on Press

Here is a simple little trick that will create the best looking screen captures.

Printing screen captures can be a very tedious process for a pressman. The process can be made much, much easier if the screen capture file is converted to CMYK using a maximum GCR (gray component replacement) setting. This Max GCR process will remove all the cyan, magenta and yellow from the image in the neutral tone areas resulting in the type being composed of just black ink. Other colored areas will still separate and print, but with much less total area coverage (TAC). Total area coverage may sound familiar because most printers prefer CMYK images with less than 300% ink coverage (adding the percent values for all four process colors).

screen grab
Imagine the press operator trying to line up/register 4 point type in all four colors. Max GCR eliminates register concerns by producing black type with black ink.

The most important part is the importance of registration on press.

The type within the screen capture will only print in black ink and no registration issues in aligning tiny little letters.

Blog Color Management Design File Prep Marketing Photography Printing Profiles

Secrets To Printing Chocolate

Printing chocolate can be very demanding.

The problem is a rich, appealing image of chocolate contains all four process colors and depending what profile is used, or converted to, there is a greater chance of not getting the results you’re looking for.

GCR Neutral Density Curves 320 TAC
Neutral Density Curves of GRACoL color profile. Notice when the image gets darker, the more Black ink is used. The gray gradient line from left is neutral gray from white to black.

An ICC color profile with a high percentage of GCR (gray component replacement) will produce the best results. Using GCR will lower the contaminate color (in the case of chocolate – cyan) and replace with a percentage of black ink.

For instance, using Photoshop’s default North American General Purpose settings, a nice brown/chocolate color will produce CMYK values of 40 cyan, 75 magenta, 100 yellow and 40 black. uses an enhanced CMYK gamut and that same color would separate/convert as 15 cyan, 65 magenta, 95 yellow and 60 black.

By just using the correct profile, a more controllable/predictable color would be obtained on press. Also, overall ink consumption would be reduced by nearly 10%. This is a result of adding the four process color percentages (255 versus 235), also know as Total Area Coverage (TAC).


Blog Design File Prep Photography

Two Simple Steps to Improving Your Digital Photos for Press

We’ve all been there before – “The client wants to run this image”.

Who knows where it came from, but it looks like hell.

The easiest correction to any digital image is to establish a highlight and shadow setting for the image.

A highlight area is the lightest portion of the image you wish to maintain detail. A “specular” highlight would refer to a reflection and have no detail (255,255,255).
The shadow area is the darkest portion of the image you wish to maintain detail.

Correct highlight and shadow values accomplish two things:

  1. establish contrast to the image
  2. remove any color cast to the image

A great starting point for a highlight is an RGB value of 250,250,250.

A starting point for shadow value is an RGB value of 10,10,10.

Equal amounts of RGB are neutral.

In theory, an absolute RGB black value is 0,0,0. However, do not go this dark due to shadow dots plugging up on press. Again, this is a starting point and you can venture into darker RGB values with experience.

Look for future post on color correction basics.

Blog Design File Prep Marketing

Number One Reason for Delays in Print Turnaround Time

The number one reason your print order can be delayed is do to errors in producing print-ready files.

All commercial printers are searching for the holy grail of PDF files; PDF X-3 , PDF X-4.

A PDF X file is ready to RIP (raster image processing). The RIP is the computer/software that reads, interprets and renders your images onto printing plates. If there are issues with submitted files, the RIP will error out and the print job will be stopped. That’s when you receive the “phone call”. will be installing an AutoRIP feature online shortly. This will be a FREE, simple way to preflight your files before placing an order with us.

Any errors will be noted so they can be repaired before you incur any charges for sending new files.


Four Color Digital Printing with Dimensional Coating is Online

The new Kodak NexPress SE is online and open for business.

This press will be color calibrated to the GRACoL color profile that’s offset Komori presses are running. Press runs can be ordered as low as 25 finished pieces. A great way to create samples or print on demand applications.

The best way to utilize this press is to take advantage of the new Dimensional Clear Coating. Dimensional Clear Coating is a thick raised UV-like coating that is raised approximately 28 microns in height and creates a 3-D effect with texture.

This coating works the best when created as a Spot Coating.

How do I create a spot Dimensional Clear layer?

  1. Build or import your file into a industry-standard raster or vector program, such as Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator, or InDesign.
  2. Create a new layer (in Photoshop create a new spot-color channel)
  3. Select image, text or pattern that you wish to have the Dimensional Clear coating, and make a copy of these items into the new layer or channel you created. Be sure to build in bleed .125 as needed
  4. Fill the selected area with a spot color named DIMENSIONAL; specify this to overprint.
  5. Make sure all other spot colors besides the DIMENSIONAL are converted to process (CMYK)
  6. Export final file for submission:
    Photoshop save files as Photoshop DCS2 – Single File with Color Composite
    Illustrator save files as .eps or .pdf
    InDesign save files as .pdf
  7. Open and check your exported file; then submit to be printed.

Watch video tutorial on preparing files for Dimensional Printing


Blog Color Management Design File Prep Photography Profiles

What to do with Embedded Color Profiles when Opening an Image in Photoshop?

When opening an image in Photoshop, you may be asked whether to keep an embedded profile, convert profile or ignore profile. The reason there is an embedded profile is because a photographer/designer had an intended appearance of what that image should look like.

These embedded profiles should be honored. Another safe option would be to convert to your ‘working’ color space when opening an image to maintain consistency. Either option will produce the best possible color match.

In order for the intended color to be converted to CMYK, the source profile must be known to get the most accurate color conversion. By keeping the embedded profile, the origin of the file’s color intent will be accurately reproduced.

Blog Color Management Design File Prep Photography Profiles

When to Convert to Profile and When to Assign a Profile

Never take these two functions for granted. They are entirely different processes and will break your chain of Color Management.

A successful Color Management workflow will always consist of a Source and Destination profile. These profiles will “link” devices and maintain the most accurate translation of color from device to device. The profile connection between Source and Destination is the LAB color space.

When you Assign an RGB profile, the numbers within the file will stay the same, however, the color will be DIFFERENT. The difference in color stems from the size of the gamut for the particular color space you are working in. Don’t forget that sRGB has a smaller color gamut than Adobe RGB and the color will be different.

Always convert to CMYK, never use “mode” change. Convert to Profile is a best practice to produce the most accurate color.

If your printer can not provide you with a custom CMYK profile, run! There is no scientific method they are using that will provide you with an acceptable color match on press.

Always communicate your color objectives from the very beginning.

Does this clear things up? Please leave a comment below…