Why The Image On Your Computer Does Not Match What You Printed? Part I

Yup, you design a beautiful post card to promote your business and then you print it. It does not match your computer screen. You bring it to a print shop and it looks different from your ink jet and your computer screen. What the heck is going on?

Lots of stuff. Here is a list of some of the variables you are dealing with:

Your monitor has limits:

  • Your monitor is limited to the number of colors it can create
  • It has lots of settings that change what is displayed on the screen
  • It produces colors with a light in back of the screen
  • It uses a mix of Red, Green and Blue to produce the picture which is called an RGB color palette.

Your printer has limits:

  • It too has a limited number of colors it can produce but it is a different palette of colors than the monitor
  • It has lots of settings that change what it prints
  • The colors printed are printed by ambient light bouncing off the page as opposed to being back lit
  • It uses Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and black to produce its colors not RGB

Your Paper Has Limits:

  • Most papers have a least a little yellow cast to them. High quality papers can be made to be a bright white. So, those colors get mixed in with the ink or toner the printer prints on the page and changes the end result
  • Paper absorbs different amounts of ink or toner, so the picture may be crisp or fades. A high quality paper keeps the ink or toner on top so that the colors pop
  • Paper may be matter or gloss. Each give a different look to the print

All of these variables enter into the equation of how your printed materials look.

Look for the next instalment of this article for solutions.