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Frequently Asked Questions: Color-matching & Print-quality

So, you’ve got a design and you’re ready to print! How do you ensure your file is ready for printing? Below are some of our most frequently asked questions about color matching and print quality.

Frequently Asked Questions: Color-matching & Print-quality

How do I ensure my blues print blue, not purple?

In terms of color families, purple is not far off from blue. If you make a design that appears blue on your screen, but prints more purple, it’s likely because the percentages of cyan and magenta are too close. We recommend keeping a minimum of 30% difference between your cyan and magenta values in order to ensure your blue prints blue. Take this example:

On a screen, the top blue appears blue but because the magenta value is so high, when printed it appears purple. We recommend keeping the magenta value low when using a high cyan value.

My gradient doesn't look right – what is banding and how can I avoid it?

Banding is a term we use when a gradient prints in what appears to be separate sections of color rather than one smooth gradient. There are lots of reasons for banding but here are some ways you can avoid it: use a blend that changes at least 50% between color components, use lighter colors, rasterize gradients prior to printing, choose the highest quality options when saving your file for printing.

How do I get rich black on my printed materials?

Rich black is a mixture of black ink with one or more additional cyan, magenta, or yellow inks to create a darker black than just using K values alone. Using the 100% K value option might not get you the kind of richness of black that you want but the layering of the other inks ensures the depth of the color. It’s important to note because rich black requires other inks, rich black can only be achieved in color printing, not monochromatic (aka standard black and white printing). If you are looking for rich black, we recommend using these values: C 60 M 40 Y 40 K 100.

Why does my grayscale photo look slightly yellow?

Because printing uses CMYK ink values, grayscale images that are converted to CMYK may shift green or yellow when printed. To avoid this, check your document to ensure there are no values other than K in your image. Tools such as the “Monochrome” feature in Photoshop can help ensure your grayscale images come out gray, not sepia.

We hope these answer most of your questions about color, file setup and more. Still have more questions or concerns? Contact one of our print experts today!

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