Why My Color Doesn’t Match on Press, Part 1

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Here are a few tips/methods to keep in mind when producing optimum color:

1. Consistent viewing conditions. The best source of light is our sun. In mid-afternoon, the sun’s light is perfectly balanced with equal parts of all colors creating a balanced light source. When viewing color proofs/press sheets inside, a 5000 Kelvin viewing box is required to communicate color effectively. Also referred to as D50 standard, it’s important that the area surrounding the viewing area be a neutral gray to limit outside color influence.

Interesting to note, the North American standard is D50 (5000 Kelvin) and the ISO standard is D65 (6500 Kelvin) which is slightly cooler. Kelvin is a unit to describe light temperature. Warmer the temperature, cooler the color.

light temperature scale
Lighting temperature scale in degrees of Kelvin. The higher Kelvin rating, the cooler the light.

2. Metamerism. Have you ever been at work and look down to notice you’re wearing two different colored socks? Metamerism is the condition where two colors match under one viewing condition and do not match under another light source. Various lighting conditions range from incandescent light (light bulb), fluorescent (office) to daylight. A metameric match will occur under daylight conditions, and not match under incandescent light.

It is imperative for everyone involved in color approval process to understand how the resulting color will be viewed to create the most effective colors.

3. Simultaneous Contrast. The surrounding environment while viewing a proof/press sheet can greatly effect the perception of a color. It is always recommended to view a proof/press sheet in a neutral environment.

4. It’s the paper. Subtractive color refers to using cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks on a white surround (usually paper) to reproduce full color. One component of the color reproduction process has the greatest influence on how good the color will look when printed on press: the paper.

The same ink color will produce very different results when printed on various paper types. The whiter the paper is, the greater the color gamut that can be reproduced on press. As paper becomes less white (and less expensive), the color gamut that can be reproduced on press becomes smaller.

First Indicator when viewing a proof that does not match press sheet. Most inkjet papers contain high levels of OBA (optical brightening agents) which create a”bluish”cast. The Paper appears whiter because there is less yellow in the light reflecting back to your eye. Yellow is the gray component of blue light, therefore adding yellow to blue light will make it more neutral.

Read Part 2 Here

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