Difference between on-screen and printed colours

  jonmac 07:45 19 Feb 2006

I publish a local magazine which contains a lot of colour pages but always find that there is a marked difference between what I see on-screen, photos or graphics, and what appears in print, either in the mag. from my professional print-house or on paper from my humble Epson. The end result is always somewhat darker and muddier. Most of the photos have their levels checked and adjusted via the histogram to ensure a good spread from black through to white. Some sort of calibration is obviously needed but how?
The print-house speak darkly about it being a difficult thing to do with a remote computer but don't produce any helpful suggestions.
Any one here have any?
Windows XP, Dell 1800FP Panel (analogue), Nvidia GeForce4 MX420 video. Epson Stylus photo 810

  jakimo 13:21 19 Feb 2006

Calibrating monitors and printers can be very complex,have a look below,and there are many similar web sites to view

click here

  €dstowe 13:43 19 Feb 2006

Matching what you see on screen with what you see in print is, as jakimo says, very complex and depend on many variables.

I'm surprised your print house isn't more helpful, though.

I would suggest that you either speak again to your printers or move elsewhere. With cooperation between the two of you, it is possible to get results that you are happy with.

  jack 14:54 19 Feb 2006

I concur with all the others
This is a perennial problem with those that fully the technicalities what goes on.

Essentially 'On screen' colours are derived from 3 lights[in simplistic terms] so you are looking at an illuminated image - like a church window for example.
The colours are achieved by rapidly switching on and off the red/blue/green 'lights' with the addition that when they are all off -represented 'black' and when they are all on represents 'white' all this is done a xxx,000 times a second[its called Electrontrickery']

A printed image relies on colours being bounced off the paper, which can have varying degrees of absorbency. the colour of the paper, to the colour[s] of the light in which the print is viewed- All this is described in arcane terms of additive[The screen] and subtractive[the print]
So depending on the quality of the prints shop a reasonable result should be achieved but to match screen colours is a bit optimistic for jobbing print work.

  jonmac 17:18 19 Feb 2006

Thanks for the comments, jakimo, Edstowe and Jack. I was away for a bit but am back now.
I do understand that things will never be perfect but need to move in that direction a bit more. I've had a quick look at the link and it does indeed look complex but some of the before and after shots correspond with what I suffer from so I'll study it in more detail later to detemine just what was tweaked to achieve the result.

Thanks again.

  woodchip 18:09 19 Feb 2006

Create a colour map in your printer, give it a name so you can load it each time you need it. Use the colour sliders print a small image to check it you will have to spend time doing this to get the colour something like you want you can keep over writing the map by clicking save, until you get it right. You can set the default DPI at the same time for your map. this will be in advanced or extra settings

  woodchip 18:12 19 Feb 2006

PS doing it in the Printer settings will not show any difference on screen, it only affects the printer output. If you create a map in a editing program it will affect what you see

  jonmac 21:19 19 Feb 2006

Colour map? What's that and how do I do it? I see provision in the printer drivers for adjusting cyan, magenta, yellow via sliders. Is that what you are referring to?

  jack 10:53 20 Feb 2006

It must also borne in mind when offering work to a commercial printer, the reproduction methods HE will use.
High street print shops will vary from straight
laser copying- limited correction- to a digital printing [laser via a computer] to offset litho with colour separations and photographic reproduction or scanned.
Also what amount of work you have done in preparation, and the Photo Editor you used and how you used it.
This is a very big topic, and here a probably not the place to discuss it.
Perhaps one of our print oriented members can point the way.

  Granger 12:58 20 Feb 2006

This used to drive me mad when I was working for myself. My logo was particular Pantone colours, and professional printed material agreed pretty well with on-screen, but my HP inkjets were a right pain. I eventually gave up trying to go the calibration/profiles route and instead I had to have duplicate logos with different colours depending on whether it was to be printed or seen on screen. My Canon i865 printer changed all that as it matched the screen colours very well.

  jonmac 16:20 20 Feb 2006

The mag is prepared using Indesign CS for DTP and Photoshop CS for colour photos, most of which will have had levels adjustment at least and conversion to CMYK. Finally, at the printer's request the Indesign file is converted to a .pdf and submitted. It's printed on a huge £350,000 computerised printer as long as a bus with multiple modules for CMYK and a coating process to prevent smearing.

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