The Digital vs. Print Color Dilemma

One of the most frequently asked questions we get are about the colors and formats of files. Specifically, the file type easiest to work with and what color profile the file should contain. Our recommendation is: High Resolution PDF with 1/8th inch bleed on each side in CMYK format. However,  even when all the correct steps are taken, there is a chance that the colors on the screen will not match the ones being printed. This is because of the way that colors are created on a screen and on print. It is also why at Kendall Press, we always print out samples for our customers before printing out large batches of product. In this article, we will talk about how to decrease the variation between digital and print as much as possible, and the reasons behind the variations. Why do files look different on screen from when they are printed?

RGB vs. CMYK

Let’s start with some basics. Many people know about the two major color formats: CMYK and RGB. RGB simply stands for Red, Green and Blue, while CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. The two methods however, differ in more than just which colors are used as the base, but also how they are used to create new colors. Specifically, the RGB color wheel is additive and used widely in electronic displays; it uses light and adds RGB values to create different colors. CMYK is subtractive; it creates different colors by removing different CMYK values. This becomes easier to understand when you consider that in CMYK, light is being reflected while in RGB, the light is being created.  If you look at the pictures sampled below, RGB is used in screens to produce colors. This color creator is from Microsoft Word. When creating the color white, notice how RGB all have full output (255).

RGB white

When producing the color black, the screen simply produces 0 colors.RGB black

Comparing that to CMYK; white is the base value with 0,0,0,0, and  CMYK values are added to reflect different colors. Interestingly, in CMYK, there are multiple black colors. One, obviously being just 0,0,0,100. Another, is the black that is created from simply converting RGB black into CMYK (this ends up being 75,68,67,90 in CMYK).

What Does this Mean to Me?

This means that even when switching color formats on your screen, the screen itself can only do its best to imitate what the colors would look like on paper. This has a lot to do with the fact that screens have a back light, while printed material reflects light. There is also the consideration that certain screens have different resolutions and quality which can further impact the difference between what is seen digitally vs. what is printed. A good general rule of thumb to limit this differentiation is to keep your screen brightness at 50%. Avoiding neon, or extremely radiant colors can also help as they generally don’t translate well on paper. However, it is important to note that most of the time, for everyday, personal printing needs, these color changes are unnoticeable. Kendall Press, being a printing company that deals only with excellence, we have to make sure that everything is as close to perfect as possible. This is one of the reasons why we print samples before printing large quantities of product.

The Adobe Suite Color Dilemma

It’s been reported that when opening files that contain Pantone colors, using Adobe, the color values shown can sometimes vary between different Adobe programs. This is because the formula that Adobe Illustrator/InDesign/Photoshop uses, can convert Pantone colors into different CMYK values.

Pantone Colors

The problems comes when Adobe Illustrator, In Design, and Photoshop convert Pantone colors into different CMYK values through Adobe’s own formulas. However, Pantone is the international color standard. this means that all the standard Pantone colors should have the same values throughout the Adobe Creative Suite program. Because we are not just a printing company but also do design work, among other services, we realized that the colors sometimes come out differently. So we reached out to Pantone, purchased and installed the Pantone Color Manager to standardize colors in our software, thus giving us an edge in making sure that the colors we see on our screens, match as much as possible to the ones that will be printed. Of course there also metallic colors that are printed through a printing press. By nature, these colors are near impossible to represent digitally because of how they reflect light.

Hopefully this information is helpful for you as a lot of it is unknown. The knowledge of the Adobe Suite incorrectly translating Pantone colors is one that is uncommon even within the printing industry! As Always, feel free to provide any questions or feedback below.

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Marketing with Instagram

Collage of nine photos of vintage object

Collage of nine photos of vintage object

Showcase your business with Instagram

Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms right now. As such, it’s the perfect showcase for your business. With so many people using Instagram in their marketing campaigns, you need to stand out to make an impact with your audience and gain new, devoted followers. This means thinking outside the box. Here are four extraordinary ways to use Instagram to boost your company’s success.

1. Show New and Innovative Uses for Your Products
Most of your customers and followers already know what your products can do, or at least what they were initially made to do. However, you can increase user engagement tremendously by showcasing lesser-known things your products can do. Come up with some novel and innovative uses for your products, then post photos of your products being used in those new and interesting ways. Take it a step further by inviting your followers to come up with their own new and interesting uses for your products. Have them send you photos for possible inclusion on your Instagram page. Make it a contest, and award a prize for the most unique and/or useful suggestion submitted via photo. You’ll get a lot more participants and new followers, which is exactly what you’re after.

2. Show Your Production Process
Give your followers a behind-the-scenes tour of your production space, office, store, and other places where the magic of creating your product happens. Show them what a day in the life of one of your employees looks like. Don’t limit your images to just production. Show employee-only areas like cubicles, on-site gyms and daycare facilities, lunch areas, meeting spaces, common areas, and more. Include images of employees interacting with each other in both a businesslike and playful manner. Showcase each individual employee with a mini-bio (your employees will love this recognition). Give your followers an idea of what goes on at your company, and strengthen their loyalty to you by making your relationship with them more intimate and personal.

3. Include Celebrities
Our culture loves celebrities. If you can get an image of a celebrity sighting in your area, put it on your Instagram page. Whether it has anything to do with your product or not, it’s sure to get a lot of views. People who come by to view the celebrity image will probably take the time to look at the rest of your Instagram page, leading to more followers and fans for your product.

4. Use the Power of Animals
Just like celebrities can’t help but bring views to your Instagram page, animals have a similar power. Share images of cute animals you find that you like. Post photos of your employees’ pets (bonus points if the pets are at your office). If you can get an image of someone’s pet using your product in some way (even playing with it), your followers will love it, and it will attract new views. As with celebrity images, these new views may very well turn into new followers.

These are just a few ways you can creatively use Instagram to your advantage. Make sure your business has an Instagram presence, then make the most of it. Use these suggestions, and watch your views and follower numbers soar.

Help with Image File Formats

  • Picture ImagesWhen it comes to creating marketing materials for print or web use, it’s important to know the differences between image file formats. Here is a brief overview of the most common file formats:

    • EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) is designed for sending/exporting vector graphics (such as logos) for print. Vector EPS files will print clear and crisp and can easily be resized without compromising print quality or losing detail.

    • TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) is a recommended format for printing high quality imagery for both MAC and PC platforms. TIFF files are designed to print clear and crisp at high resolutions (usually 300dpi) and support a transparent background.

    • A JPEG/JPG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) is a compressed image file that is ideal for creating and exchanging digital photographs. JPGs use lossy compression, meaning you will lose image quality if the file is enlarged or edited. Also, there is no support for transparency in a JPEG file.

    • GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) is a bit-mapped graphics file that is gradually being replaced by the PNG format. GIF has been popular for images with large areas of solid colors, such as logos and text as graphics. GIF does not compress your pictures, which mean that they do not loose image quality, resulting in large files. GIF can be used for animation and supports a transparent background. NOTE: GIFs are not suitable for professional printing (they are ideal for web use).

    • PNG (Portable Network Graphics) is a newer file format that features lossless compression of data, meaning an image can be compressed without losing image quality. PNG files also support transparency and are ideal for web use, but because of the lack of CMYK color support and inability for color separations, PNG is not a good fit for professional printing.

    If you need help understanding different file formats, remember we’re just a phone call away. Give us a call today – we look forward to answering all of your printing questions.