It’s one thing to hit print and hope for the best. It’s quite another to know, or better yet trust, exactly what your printer is doing. Color printing is a complicated process. A better understanding of exactly what’s happening with all those pixels will lessen some of the stress related to getting that perfect picture.
First, there’s color matching, which can be a headache, especially if you don’t understand the process that’s going on. Remember that your monitor is displaying color by emitting light, while your printer is working with a piece of paper that will absorb light. This means you’re dealing with two opposing forces trying to replicate each other.
Speaking of light, RGB and CMYK are two common color terms you should be familiar with. RGB (red, green, blue) and CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) should not be used interchangeably. Computer monitors give off RGB light, and CMYK is used for your printing needs. In short, RGB colors are additive, while CMYK colors are subtractive.
Now, it might seem that color printing is a stagnant technology. On the contrary, it has come a long way in recent years. High-resolution printers are now more reliable and affordable than ever before. At the end of the day, all anyone wants is a vibrant print product that matches the colors they see on the screen. This might mean that they should simply do test prints until the desired product is achieved, but for exact matches, use Pantone® color, which will standardize color matching and simplify the process.
Don’t get bogged down in the technological details of printing. Instead, take this basic understanding and find a method that alleviates the stress of color printing. Before you know it, you’ll have that perfectly printed piece ready for your next big presentation.