Color Label Solutions

Color Label Solutions

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Red Is Not Always Red

Red Is Not Always Red

Not long ago, I had an end user say, “my label printer does not produce the same color as I see on the monitor."


Even after selling label printers for years, many of you may not have dealt with the issue of color matching.  But in my work with color on-demand label printers, I have had to deal with a color matching requirement occasionally.  In this blog post, I like to offer you a few key elements to consider when presented with a color matching requirement.

Please remember; I am not an expert in the area of color but rather a “newby”.  I hope you can save yourself some time by learning a bit about the very complex subject of color with me.

Before I do offer suggestions around color matching, it is important to have a set of common definitions that I captured from Wikipedia and the following website:  

Color:  is the visual perceptual property corresponding in humans to the categories called red, green, blue, and others.

Additive Primary Colors: Red, Green and Blue (RGB).  All the colors an imaging device using light (i.e. monitors) are produced by varying the amounts of red, green and blue.

Cyan Magenta Yellow (CMY).  The three "subtractive" primary colors used as the basis of dye or pigment-based printing systems (including the TM-C3400).

CMYK. The four colors commonly used in process color printing. C: Cyan M: Magenta Y: Yellow K: Key Color (which is usually black).

Process Color.  Refers to the inks and process used when a wide range of colors are reproduced using a limited number of inks (including the TM-C3400).

As a newby in the world of color, I did not know how to respond to the comment, “my print output does not match my colors on my monitor”.  Rather than saying, “it is what it is”, I decided to learn more color.  

Looking at the definition of color, it is easier to understand how the light of Additive Primary Colors used in monitors produces slightly different colors than the pigments/dyes used for the subtractive primary colors of CMY printers.  So I wondered, what can an end user do to produce a better visual match between the monitor and printer?

Given my question, I went to an Epson Graphic Artist consultant for his support and advice.  According to Graphic Artist, “when a user needs to more precisely match color on his or her screen with the print output, you have only one viable option; they need to calibrate their monitor.   To learn more about monitor calibration, check out one of these two links:

Other than calibrating monitors, users have asked about making changes to the RGB colors in software programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator or even label software programs like Bartender, Nicelabel or the Teklynx products.  However, these adjustments are not designed for a novice user; and will affect all colors.

Based on my experience with color on-demand label printing, I recommend using color to add images, text and logos to labels.  Color in these situations:

*  Eliminates preprinted inventory
*  Reduces costs; waste/labor/administration/errors
*  Improves work processes
*  Reinforces brand/company image
*  Permits last-second design changes
*  Increases sales

Trying to match a specific color is difficult; and not for typical end users.

If you are a person new to on-demand color labels, please remember; Red is not always Red!  I hope these suggestion help you meet and match better the color expectations of your internal and external customers.

Guy Mikel

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