Thursday, April 30, 2015

Perfect prints; DPI, RGB, and CMYK

Your computer screen produces light, while ink on paper absorbs and reflects light from the environment.

Images on a screen or monitor are shown in a combination of red, green, and blue light, or "RGB"

If you've ever changed certain brands of printer cartridges, you may have noticed the color component consisted of a spectrum of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, or "CMYK". 

You may have also noticed that when printing an image, it did not exactly match the sharpness or color shown on your screen.

Below, I'll explain why this is the case, and how to get the image on the screen to match the printed product in your hand.

Your computer screen is capable of displaying millions of colors at a time. In contrast, printers are capable of producing several thousand shades of ink. What may look rich on screen may appear washed out in a piece of print due to the way the colors are produced and combined.

Before submitting a digital image or design for print, you'll want to be sure you convert your piece to the CMYK color mode, and make adjustments as necessary. Better yet is to design in CMYK mode to begin with if possible, although different image editing programs have different capabilities. 

The good news is that programs from Microsoft Paint to Adobe Photoshop have the ability to at least save an image in a CMYK format, with varying levels of ease, depending on the software you're using.

By doing this, you will ensure your printed image's color will be accurate, and not overly saturated, or washed out.
Now, you may also have noticed that your image looks blurry, or pixelated in some cases. The image may display just fine on your screen, and even be sized correctly for the dimensions you are trying to print. What's the issue here?

More than likely, if your image is sized correctly and still pixelated, DPI is the issue.

DPI is an acronym for "dots per inch". It is used in printing to determine the printed resolution of your image or design, by measuring the amount of ink for a given amount of paper. 

Generally speaking, one should provide an image of no less than 300 dpi for optimum clarity on a print job, though for large format prints sometimes a higher number may be required. 

With your knowledge of the mysteries and intricacies of printing, you're guaranteed to be producing clean, professional quality prints for your needs very time.
We hope this article furthers your journey to success in all your endeavors! 

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