Colours form the heart and soul of print designs. So it is no wonder that brands spend a lot of time and attention selecting the correct colour scheme for their product’s packaging. However, the work does not stop here as it’s equally important to bring the design to life, exactly, the way it looks on the computer. Any mismatch and the printed design may appear far different from the intention, leading to unavoidable delays and unnecessary panic. It is here that the concept of color-matching comes in.
What is Colour Matching?
Simply put, colour matching refers to making sure that the colours in your packaging design, visible on screen, look the same once the design gets printed and takes its place on the final product. Hence, color-matching is crucial in printed packaging. It not only helps to maintain colour accuracy in terms of its hue, brightness, and saturation but avoids last-minute surprises and deviations from the intended result.
Ways to Achieve Colour Correctness in Printed Packaging
1. Start Designing in the Most Appropriate Colour Space
Colours get represented differently in different colour spaces. Hence, to get desired results, it is recommended to work in the correct colour space right from the beginning. It means that you may have to go beyond the default colour profiles on your system, such as sRGB, and install the one most appropriate for your projects like Adobe RGB or CMYK.
2. Use Proofing Tools to Generate a Soft-Proof of Your Designs
Before you spend time and money printing the hard-proof of your design and being disappointed with the results, go in for soft-proofing using a calibrated monitor. An electronic-screen soft-proof is a highly beneficial alternative to get a sense of what the design and colours will look like upon printing and whether or not you’re on the right track.
3. Don’t Forget the Physical Print Proofs
After checking the artwork on your monitor, it’s time to get a digitally-printed physical proof of the design. Though it may seem unimportant, it is, in fact, the hard printed proof that helps to spot problem areas and possibly foretell inconsistencies that may crop up in the final version the printing press sends you and avoid them beforehand.
4. Communicate Your Expectations to The Printer
It is always good practice to brief your printer about your expectations correctly, especially when they’re about to tackle large runs, tricky print jobs and complex reprints. So do provide them with colour matching samples, reference prints, and colour mixing references to maintain colour accuracy & reduce time wastages in corrections.
5. Ask for Cylinder Proofs
Most printers and consumers depend on cylinder proofs for print approval since they give the right colours up to a certain extent. However, cylinder proof does have its limitations.
- The cylinder manufacturer must be using the same film and inks to match the proof, or there will be a deviation.
- Proofing is done with high viscosity inks, whereas in printing, viscosity is lower, which can produce variations between the proof and the actual print run.
- Proofing happens at a much slower speed than the actual commercial speed of printing. Slow speed would mean there would be a difference in dot transfer, thereby affecting the colours.
Though cylinder proof is a sensible parameter to check the print job, it can differ from the actual result. Hence, do keep a certain tolerance for colour shades in mind when relying on cylinder proofs.
6. Opt for a Colour Library
If you need special or uncommon colour profiles for your print packaging, you might want to consider working with a colour library such as Pantone or CMYK equivalents. For one, you will have access to a full gamut of colour references. And two, maintaining colour accuracy and representing your brand correctly will no longer be challenging.
7. Use Extended Colour Gamut Printing (ECG)
Extended Colour Gamut Printing is the methodology of introducing three additional inks, Orange, Green & Violet (OGV), to the CMYK Process Colours, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black during printing. Adding the extra colours extends or expands the range of colour printing and helps to reduce the overall dependence on spot colours. The resultant printed images are a lot more vivid with negligible colour difference.
8. Pay Attention to the Lighting
Whether you’re approving proofs or colour matching, it is crucial to have the correct lighting since even the slightest variation in your light source can change how visual is perceived. So try to maintain standard lighting conditions as that goes a long way in avoiding faulty approvals and perception-related glitches.
According to the International Standards Organisation ISO 3664, you should view and approve prints under a D50 equivalent light source.
A little planning and forward-thinking goes a long way to complete the printing project without delays, rework, and glitches. And ensuring that you get your printed colours right and in perfect sync with the intended results.
Do you need an expert’s opinion on how you can improve your printing procedures and get consistent results, every time? Then feel free to book a discovery call with me at www.chetan-jain.com.