Why colours look different on your screen.

Colour Stationery School

I've said it before. And I'll say it again.

Eat your veggies.
Hang your towel.
Put the toilet seat down.
Clean your room.
Not tonight dear.
Colour varies.

Now let's bring this back to stationery (and design and science).

The colour on your desktop, compared with you iPad, compared with your printer, compared with your phone, compared with my printer, compared with the type of paper it is printed on...will vary. Sometimes slightly, sometimes a lot.

The ONLY way you can get a true idea of the EXACT colour your stationery will print out is to get a printed sample.

Not always possible I know. With digital files, you have to take a stab in the dark and hope that it will match your theme. In most cases, it isn't far wrong.

In saying that, for your wedding, if you ordered your stationery online and your dresses are pale pink, and the colour you got is baby pink with the slightest hint of yellow, or the card not off white, it is ivory, rest assured that no one is going to hold that invite up to your bridesmaids dresses and scream "OH MY LORD! The colour is not exact!! Everyone come and look" (unless of course you managed to get one of THOSE mother in laws/great crazy aunt etc).

I often get asked to change the colour of my proof as it is 'not right'. I do change it so my clients can 'see' the 'right' colour, but then when it comes to print, I change it back again (unbeknownst to them) so it will print out the right colour.

Colour Variation | Emma Smith Event Stationery 

Why does this happen?

I am going to strip it right down to basics for you.

You may have heard of the terms RGB and CMYK. They are different models that make up colour and there is whole science behind them. (I know right, who'd of thought science would come in handy after school).

Mostly and basically, your screens are RGB (RED, GREEN, BLUE) colour ways. Printed matter is CMYK (CYAN, YELLOW, MAGENTA, KEY - BLACK). But guess what?, our eyes see (human perception) in RGB. You can convert RGB colours to CMYK colours, but they might never be EXACTLY the same.

Most designers use what is known as PANTONE swatches, which is a brand of colour. You may have heard of this too, but again, when you try and match these with CMYK printed matter, it may vary slightly as well.

And then, the RGB colour model on your screens, will give off different colour depending on various screen resolutions, pixels and all that other technological speak.

With RGB colour and screens, the colour will even vary between makes and models of phones, iPads, tablets and desktops. 

So colour is complicated, and hard to get right sometimes if you are looking for an exact match. But when you work with an experienced designer, it is their job to get it right for you. Don't be afraid to ask yours if you're confused over colour.


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