A Great Recipe for Print Success: Make Sure Your Designer and Printer See Things the Same Way


You don’t need a complicated recipe to create a tasty dish; it can turn out fabulous with just a few ingredients, as long as they all work well together. Same goes for printing.

Anyone who likes hanging around a kitchen knows you need to understand your ingredients. It’s important for brand marketers to work closely with, and understand, how to communicate their needs to both graphic designers and printers. One designs and the other one prints. These are two different tasks whose combined output can be ideal, or catastrophic.

Using the right ingredients

CMYK is the basis for four color printing, comprising the standard colors of cyan, magenta, yellow and black. All the colors in a piece are separated into these four, which when laid on top of each other in the print process, form patterns that come back together and appear as the original color to the human eye.

In contrast, graphic designers’ kitchens (computer screens) don’t work with CMYK, they use red, blue, and green (RGB) to produce all colors. So if your printer receives files that are setup as RGB, he or she will have to convert them to CMYK. And this can produce some dramatic changes in the print colors.

Follow the recipe

Here are a few handy tips that can prevent some unpleasant surprises:

  • Make sure your Graphic Designer is familiar with whatever kind of production process your work requires. If you are using a 4 color printing process, request he/she work on a CMYK setting ONLY.
  • Some printers supply their ICC profiles, which help match their printer colors to graphic programs, in order to standardize the colors. Use them when you can.
  • Ask your printer for a Standard of Web Offset Printing (SWOP) certified proof before running the whole job. The job should end up looking like the approved proof.
  • Go to the printer for a press check so you can see your job running, and if anything looks out of order, they can stop and make corrections immediately.

Remember, it’s much easier to catch any problems BEFORE your print run is completed.


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