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Color variance

Due to the 4 color CMYK ink printing process, the variety of paper types and laminations, as well as digital and offset print set ups, there can be variations in color.

CMYK

Because printing is done in CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black) and uses a blend of 4 colors of ink, printed products are subject to small degrees of color variance.

This means that some colors may look slightly different when printed on paper at the start of a large print run, compared to examples from the end of the print run. In addition, these differences may be even more noticeable between print runs.

For this reason, there are a number of recommended CMYK values to help minimise color variance.

Suggested CMYK values

We do our best to keep color variation to a minimum. Consequently, however, we cannot always color match against work from other printers.

Examples of slight color variations in printing
Example 1 of slight colour variance Example 2 of slight colour variance

Digital vs offset

Digital and offset printing presses produce slightly different colors. An industry scale digital printer is like a giant office printer that’s ideal for small print runs; while a offset printer uses wet ink and metal plates pressed down onto the paper, and is more efficient for large print runs. Although they both use CMYK inks, since these are two very different manufacturing processes there will be some variation between the two methods.

A offset press, however, is able to reproduce colors more consistently than a digital press throughout the entire print run. For more information on the difference between these two printing methods, please click the link below.

Digital vs Offset printing

Note the very slight color differences between digital printing and offset printing
Booklet cover printed on a digital and litho press

Paper types

If you print the same design on both satin and uncoated paper, there will be some color variation because of the different way each paper type holds and absorbs the CMYK ink.

We recommend satin paper for the most accurate color reproduction, while gloss tends to increase hue saturation and uncoated or recycled paper darkens and desaturates the final color.

Please bear these qualities in mind when choosing which paper to print on, especially as uncoated papers have become increasingly popular in recent years.

Read our guide to paper

Leaflet printed on silk, uncoated, and gloss paper

Laminations

In a similar fashion to paper types, laminated finishes can effect the final color of your printed project.

For example, we’ve found that satin paper with a matte lamination is the most common choice for cover papers because matte lamination reduces shine. Matte lamination, moreover, can desaturate colors slightly and even apply a slight colored tint. Similarly – as is the case with gloss paper – a gloss laminate enhances color saturation while applying an extra shiny coating to your cover paper.

Read our guide to finishes

Booklet cover with matt and gloss lamination
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