How to review color on proofs and at a press check

First-off, we don’t expect everyone to be a color expert, that’s our job. You don’t have to know how many percentages of magenta to remove or add. Our salespeople, pre-press operators, press operators and image color-correction people are pretty good at interpreting.

When your job goes through our prepress process you will be shown a series of proofs. Look for content errors in color and images in the first proofs, but don’t get color critical, yet. The first proofs we provide are designed to give you an idea of placement and overall color. You can see if something is blue when it should be red. Or, is that the Eiffel Tower in the background, when it should be the Statue of Liberty? Catching those errors early is much less costly to fix.

Once you receive your Matchprint Proof, you can start getting critical about color. Our proofers are calibrated to the G7 specification regularly, so they should be very close to color-correct. If an image looks too red on the proof, it will look too red on press. Don’t be shy, ask to see if it can be fixed.

Communication is the key. Sit down with your salesperson and go over your proof, write on it with a marker, circle what you want fixed and add notes. Once the changes are made you will be supplied a new proof, compare it to the old proof, did we understand the change you wanted? Is the color correct now? If not, ask for another change. Proofs are cheaper than re-printing a job.

Once you have approved the proofs and have moved to the press check, fixing individual elements on a printed piece is not possible. The adjustments you do at a press check are to the overall printed piece. If you see that the overall color of the piece is too red, let your salesperson or press operator know. They can make the color adjustment on press and show you a new press sheet.

Now, how do you ask for a color change when you aren’t a color expert? Sometimes it can be as simple as “that is too red” or “our company color is blue not purple”. We can investigate and fix it accordingly. We can fix many things such as color or contrast, just talk with your salesperson in plain English to relate your concerns. They can translate your request to the people who can fix it.

As printers we do have our own language and set of terms. Concepts like “cool” or “warm” invoke certain responses from us. Cool is cyan, making something cooler means adding cyan, warm means magenta. Sometimes the more descriptive you are will help us understand what you are after. If you say, “it looks too warm, like it is reddish-yellow or orangey”, that tells us we need to work both the magenta and yellow, not just magenta.

Sometimes telling us what it isn’t can tell us as much as what it should be. “It’s too dark” or “ I was looking for something brighter that pops more” can give us clues as to what you are expecting. Let us worry about the technical details of how to get there. If you have a previously printed sample or color chip, bring that along or give it to your salesperson ahead of your press check, so the press operator can get the color close before you arrive. That is a great way to show us what you are looking for.

And one last thing, sometimes our answer might be “you can’t get there from here”, but don’t fret, we can work with you to accomplish what you are after or we can find a happy medium. The important thing is to communicate.

Talk to your salesperson or CSR and when your next job goes to press, ask for a press check. We are more than happy to have you come down and see what we do in person.

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