Colour Matching & Colourtype

You will hear 3 types of colour used to make up artwork.

Spot colours are mixed like paint and printed one at a time. We can produce any colour using the Pantone spot colour system. You will hear spot colour artwork being referred to as 1, 2, or 3 colours. Over 3 colours unless you have very specific requirements, you would use Full Colour Process. Full colour pictures displayed on screens are RGB – made up of red, green and blue light – but when we print, we use Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and blacK – the CMYK system.

Full colour files must be CMYK when supplied to us. If you supply RGB files and we convert them and the results are not what you would wish, we cannot be held liable. RGB files CANNOT be printed from.

Colour matching is a thorny issue. Everybody’s monitors, and printers, will display different colours. Complex blends like burgundies, maroons, greens, and browns may suffer more than others, and unfortunately we can take no responsibility for miscalibrated monitors or printers being cited as correct when their display differs from our printed material.

Our print is technically ‘correct’ to about a 99% tolerance. This means that the levels of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and blacK inks on the page are tested every centimetre and continually adjusted to +/- 1% of the values displayed on your artwork. If you have a Pantone matching book, you can see the colours on printers’ paper and compare the closest Pantone match to your CMYK blend. A 1% colour variation can make a big difference in some cases.

Its all a question of understanding the limitations of the processes used. Full colour print is just that – an economical way of producing print in full colour. If you have a large solid area that needs to be a particular colour, you should consider a spot colour which may be less economical. There are other considerations when producing in full colour:

– avoid tints that contain less than 10% of either cyan, magenta, yellow, or black, as they will print much lighter than they appear on screen.

– watch your blacks! 100% K is very different from ’full colour black’ – generally 90/90/90/100 C/M/Y/K, and much fuller and richer. You may not be able to tell the difference on flat screens or laptops so use your Colour Picker.

– however please note Full Colour black is too overpowering for large solids and white-out text; the best black for large solids and whiteout is 50/0/0/100 or 50%C, 100%K.

– try to avoid large areas of the same colour as colour variation may become noticeable – as mentioned, this is a job for a spot colour

– colours will appear different on different paper stocks, much more so than you would imagine, and on uncoated stocks such as letterheads and compliment slips, much duller and possibly very different.

Further considerations are to be thought of when producing batch printed items – full colour flyers, posters, and leaflets printed 8-up or 16-up. The incredible savings to be had with this method are only offset by the fact that printing 16 jobs at a time removes the ability of the press operator to adjust the ink strengths to suit the job. Therefore, you may notice a difference in the overall colour balance of your job on a reprint or compared to your monitor/printer.

Batch printed files are subject to limitations imposed by the requirement for consistency across all the batched artwork, and therefore no colourmatching can be guaranteed to supplied proofs, or previously printed jobs. Clients should be aware that their monitors and printers are in all likelihood not calibrated to Century 23’s systems and that we will not be held liable to a presumed colourspace based on home or small business monitor reproduction.

In short, excellent results are obtained daily with an understanding of the limitations of the machinery we work with. If you have a particular requirement (a rich purple sky, a violent orange, a particular red) then we can advise if you forewarn us – but we can’t accept complaints afterwards if we weren’t made aware of specific requirements and your colours aren’t quite as you expected them based on your monitor or printers’ performance.

If you have exact colour requirements, we may advise a seperate bespoke run for your job where we can adjust the ink strengths and match to proofs, or a spot colour.

As we cannot guarantee colour matching printing batch work in Full colour process (CMYK) it is worth paying extra attention to your colour balances. Particular colours to look out for are Blues and Purples. Blue and Purple are in a very similar range of colours and can be easily miss-represented by your computer monitor’s calibration. Therefore it is worth (as with any colours you use) checking that the CMYK balance is correct. Eg, Purples should have more Magenta than Cyan, Blues should have more Cyan than Magenta. A printer will print the information supplied, a monitor only gives a representation.