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Why Screen and Print Color Appear Differently and How to Fix It

Color Appear Differently

Putting painstaking hours in creating your design and not getting the exact colors on your print job can be a big let-down. Even when you make your designs by meticulously selecting the colors, they can end up looking lighter, darker, or saturated in print instead. The colors you see on your screen often don’t look as vibrant on print. This does not mean that there is something wrong with your printer. Usually, the problem arises in the designing process and can be fixed using simple checks. Here is why screen and print color appear differently and how you can fix it:

  • Brightness

Light cannot be printed. When you see your design project on your monitor, your screen adds brightness to your creations. This makes the designs look different and brighter from how they will look after being printed.


The RGB color model comprises of Red, Green, Blue and has a wide range of colors. It can display up to 17 million colors as the model is composed of every color in white light.

The CMYK model creates color by using four colors – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. The CYMK model has limited color options and does not produce color as bright as the RGB system.

Your computer monitor uses the RGB model to create colors on the screen, whereas the printer uses the CMYK model to put the colors on paper. Thus, printers cannot replicate all the colors that a monitor does. Also, it is quite challenging to convert on-screen colors to CMYK and replicate them for printing.

rgb to cmyk

  • Viewing Devices

All devices display colors a bit differently. The same design looks differently as a PDF on computer, as a PDF on your phone, and as a printed copy. The colors can even change from one screen to other. One way to keep the colors as natural as possible is to invest in a good monitor and turn off all the in-built colors.

Let’s find out what you can do to minimize the difference between the colors you see on screen and the colors on your print copies.

  • Use Pantone Color Library

The Pantone color library gives access to various colour swatches that can be used as fixed colour references. Pantone Matching System is a widely used and recognized color matching system that can help you bring your print colors as close as possible to their digital versions. While designing a logo or creating branding images, it is essential to use fixed brand colors. You can order Pantone chips to show your client, which can help eliminate confusion. You can also opt for a different color library than Pantone.

If you choose not to use Pantone colors, then you can also go for digital printing. However, it isn’t possible to achieve exact color matching in digital printing.

  • Maintain the Brightness Level

While working on your design, try to keep your screen device’s brightness level low so that you can get a clearer idea of what your design will look like on paper. All screens are unique, but keeping the brightness at around 50% can help.

  • Calibrate Your Monitor

You can calibrate your monitor using devices like Spyder 4. The Spyder 4 measures the light emitted by your screen and the light around your workspace and then automatically adjusts the colour range of your monitor.

Why Screen and Print Color Appear Differently

  • Test Print and Evaluate

You can print out test copies before printing the entire quantity. Test print your project every time you make any edits to know how the changes reflect in your printed documents.

  • Talk with Your Printing Company

Always remember to talk with your printing company so that they get a better idea of what you want. Try to provide your printing company with some references so that they can do better color-correction and color-matching.

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Now that you have ample knowledge about why colors look different on screen and in print and how to fix them, you can now print your designs with increased confidence.

About CityBlue

CityBlue Technologies partners with industry-leading companies to offer the latest extensive format printing technology. We pair the latest technology with our expert sales staff and our experienced service team to provide our customers with the best possible service. Together with our strategic partners, CityBlue Technologies truly delivers solutions beyond expectations.



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