Resources/ Graphic Design - Proofing

WARNING! Your laser proofs from Stellar Communications or those you print out yourself from the web site or PDF files do not accurately reflect what a commercial printer will produce. But why not?

There are a number of reasons, but the most important reasons why a laser print, your computer monitor or an ink jet proof won't represent final color accurately are as follows.

  1. Proofing Issues with Spot Color (one, two and three color jobs) - Full-color laser prints are made with very tiny dots of CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) toner, not wet Pantone inks. So the CMYK dots are only an approximation of what the wet PMS inks will look like. Read more about spot colors vs. full color CMYK.
  2. Proofing Issues with Full Color - Pantone (aka PMS) inks are used only for spot color printing, not “full color” printing. Even though full color printing is a CMYK process, your job will be run on a different device from your personal printer (or ours) so you will get different results as each printer is calibrated differently.
  3. Paper Differences - Proofs are printed on laser-compatible white paper stock or other stock you requested. Depending upon what paper you select, your printed piece may be printed on a different paper stock that has a different ink absorption rate and may be cream, ivory or some other color. Bottom line on papers: When the paper on the proof is different than your stock, the ink colors will look different. In addition, even if you use the same paper as your proof, there are still issues 1 and 2.
  4. Ink Jet Proofing Issues - Similar to full-color laser proofs, ink jets use CMYK colors in tiny dots to produce the full color range. But instead of toner, ink jets use inks. These are not the same types of inks that commercial printers use, so it is again an approximation.
  5. Screen Proofing Issues - Your monitor (and ours) use red, green and blue (RGB) dots to represent the full color spectrum. So RGB dots on a screen are not like seeing wet Pantone inks that have dried onto paper. The color you see on your computer monitor is an approximation of the final printed piece.

Achieving the best accuracy for spot color designs…
The best way to select and specify colors is to use the Pantone PMS swatch book and choose colors by PMS number. Printers also use the PMS swatch book to obtain mixing formulas for their inks and load them on the press for your job. Finally, if you are highly concerned, talk to your printer about your concerns and consider doing a press check.

Achieving the best accuracy for full color designs…
Request a color proof (sometimes called a color key or match print) from your print shop in advance to see an example of what your job will look like in terms of color. These typically cost $100 or are included in the price on larger jobs. You can also do a press check.

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