Understanding print is critical
At a time seemingly dominated by web and digital media, the importance of print expertise is often overlooked. But the truth is that print media are still very much alive. Working with a designer who understands a broad range of print media can be critical to your company’s success.
Fly Creative has experience with a vast range of print media, from the very small, to the very large, and everything in between. Above is a tiny sampling of the types of projects we produce on a daily basis.
Whether you need us to oversee your monthly magazine production or recreate your logo, we can help. You can benefit from our understanding of the nuances of offset versus digital, silkscreen versus cereal box tattoos...and the best method to use for your particular project.
Notes on Color
We get questions about color constantly. Usually, it revolves around a certain color that we're trying to match for a client. Perhaps it is the green on a web site or the faded vinyl graphic on the side of a truck or the U.K. blue on the floor at Rupp Arena. Of course, that very specific color is precisely the color the client wants to match for all of their new branding and marketing material moving forward.
Don't laugh. It happens. And with some regularity. So, below we have put together a simple discussion on color, how it is produced, and how it is used differently in print and on the web.
Why Screen color and printed color will never match
Screen colors are produced using Red, Green and Blue light emitted from your monitor. Every color you seen on your monitor, whether it is composed of thousands or millions of colors, uses RGB (emitted-light) color.
Printed color is reflected color. In most cases printed color involves the use of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black pigmented ink to produce continuous color. So the color you see on your business card, for example, is light that has been reflected. I won't go into the detail about how we see color but keeping this concept in mind is important.
All screens are different. Even two monitors that were bought at the exact same place and at the exact same time and placed on the same desk facing the same direction can look different. Just for the sake of our explanation, let's say that both of the monitors were calibrated by NASA to represent colors in exactly the same way. Now, take one of those monitors and place it on a desk where the room has a window with natural light. Take the other and place it in a room where you have flourescent light. The colors will look very different. And, you would have just lost every effect of that expensive taxpayer funded color calibration.
The point of all this? To illustrate that screen color varies from monitor to monitor, office to office and desk to desk, so trying to match a color from your specific monitor to the color on your business card is impossible.
Process color matching
Matching color with process (CMYK) printing is a lot easier, but not without its hazards. Remember,with CMYK printed color, you are using four basic colors laid down on a surface to create every other color you want to see. The technology has come a long way in the last few years, but total accuracy with process color is still tricky. Even if the color is produced on the same computer controlled press, on the same day with the same press operator using the same paper, the color from the first card to the last card may be slightly different. Now let's say you get the same card printed two months later. You may end up with a very slight but noticeable difference in the two cards.
Slight differences in paper and coatings can also make a color look a little bit different.
And, as with the monitors, the color will look different depending on the lighting situation it's viewed in. A deep dark process blue might look like blue in the sunlight but black on a trade show floor.
Using a spot color to guarantee consistency
The best way to match color is the use of a spot or PMS color. Basically, the printer is using a color that is mixed before it hits the press--instead of relying on the on-press combination of the four basics as discussed above. The color is selected by the client or designer like a paint swatch. It's then applied on a separate plate, providing consistent color from the first to the last piece.
There are several advantages to a spot color. The first and biggest advantage is consistent color. The second is that in most cases spot colors are brighter than process (CMYK) colors. Spot colors also provide options like metallic or dayglow colors that can't be produced any other way, adding to the uniqueness of your branded materials.
The downside, you guessed it, is the cost and turnaround time. Custom mixed colors eliminate the great values and lightning fast turnaround times that are available with very standard, very automated full color printing. All of the wonderful advances in automation that have brought prices down to the levels we see today are out the window. However, when completely accurate color is the goal, spot colors are the way to go.
Congratulations! If you made it this far, you know more about color than most of the people on the planet. And, if you are a little unclear about the best possible color direction for your company, we are just a phone call away. We're happy to advise you on the most efficient and economical way to get great color. Call us today at 1-866-249-1955.
See our Printing Services page for some additional tips, guidelines and simple ways to save money on print.