News & Insights

Getting a Digitally Produced Project Ready for Print

06 November 2014
By Kim Sullivan

When working with digital files, there are different colour formats that apply to offline and online media, and getting the application correct is very important in making sure that your project fulfils your needs now and into the future. If you will need to repurpose imagery in the future for different uses, making sure that you understand the applications of different formats will ensure that your work is still usable and will help to avoid nasty surprises further down the line.


The two colour palettes

It’s important to figure out from the get-go what palette you are going to use. There are two palettes that are commonly used – RGB & CMYK. Stands for Red, Green and Blue. CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key. “Key” comes from the fact this plate used to contain “key information” about the print. Essentially, this is the colour used to regulate brightness, and generally this colour is black.


One applies to print, one applies to the web

Your computer screen emits light, whereas paper reflects it. This difference means that you can’t take the exact same approach to forming images.  For example, if you combine all the colours of the spectrum as light, you get white, but try mixing inks to get the same result and it’s not going to work!


You can recreate CMYK colours accurately in RBG, but not the other way around

With modern graphics chips, RGB can display a greater number of combination colours than CMYK can. This means that once you’ve taken a digital image and converted it to CMYK for print, you will have lost some colour information.


If you want to use Photoshop filters, stick to RGB. In fact, it may be best to just stick to RGB in general

Because of the nature of electronic filtering and effects, the process demands use of the RGB colour palette; this is simply the palette that computers work with. To convert from CMYK to RBG and back again is going to cause havoc with the colouration of your design.

It used to be common practise to start out with CMYK as the palette, but now that RBG can actually accurately replicate the same range of colours, if you are going to be repurposing the same art assets for the web as well as print (which you likely are) you can always make sure that your digital imagery (which will be in RGB) corresponds to the end colours that are possible using CYMK by just converting them before sending work away for print.

Whilst this can sometimes cause slight variation, there are many benefits to sticking to RGB for as long as possible. If you do this, it means you can avoid issues that crop up where all you printed media has slightly different shading than your online media.

If you would like to speak to the experts about your print requirements, please contact Danny today for more information:

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