Color Guidelines with Nonstop Printing

Color Guidelines with Nonstop Printing

Ideal Design Conditions

We can never hit color 100% perfectly, but here's what we've found that gets our color closer to ideal for the vast majority of people.

There are two critical items to strive for as a designer when working with Nonstop Printing.
  1. Look at PDFs using Adobe Reader (free) or Acrobat. Do NOT proof from your phone. 
  2. Use a newer mac monitor.
  3. Design with your mac brightness settings at 50%.
  4. When creating a specific color that isn't extremely color critical but you want us to stay around that color, use CMYK sliders.
  5. If you're worried or working on a super color critical project, talk to us first and send mock ups.

And here's why:
  1. Opening PDFs from Adobe places your file in a more streamlined profile. Do NOT proof from your phone or any other program. We've seen extreme color changes when proofing things on a phone.
  2. Apple Mac screens are the closest thing we've found to have consistent color from screen to screen. PC screens are made by a plethora of different manufacturers which removes all hope of finding color consistency.
  3. when we compare our output to the screen, it comes closest to 50% brightness. This is especially important for darker images.
Art below is from our awesome teammate Daniel D'Amato! @ddamatoart, who is currently a press operator at Nonstop Printing!

What if your images and color look too dark at 50%?

It may be tempting to up your mac monitor brightness up so you can see the details, but remember that our prints most closely emulate it at 50%. Instead, adjust your files to the brightness you like within your design program.

What if you have a particular color that's really important and you're willing to pay extra to have us focus on it?

Cost depends on the project, but for simple projects it adds about $100+ per color to the project. We don't like doing it because it can be very disruptive to our workflow and may also cause delays in your order, but we will if it's a non-negotiable.

There are only two ways we'll feel confident about the color you're targeting:
  1. Preferred way: a physical sample mailed to us
  2. Second Best: Pantone selection from a physical pantone book "Pantone Solid Uncoated" or "Pantone Solid Coated":
Why: it's the only objective way for us to target. Pantone books are good because they try hard to keep their swatch books consistent. They're not perfect though. The same color between pantone books are slightly different, and most people don't spend $180 a year to keep their book color books accurate (including us). Color fades over time.

Color Profiles

We haven't seen color profiles have a huge effect on our output but it doesn't hurt to use the profiles we like. Again, looking at your files using a Mac screen at 50% brightness and using Adobe PDF to view your PDF will by far have the greatest benefit to evaluating color. Find more by clicking on the link below:
Recommended ICC Profiles and Color Settings

Why is it so hard to dial in color for physical objects?

Color is difficult. It's one of the most challenging aspects for printers and manufacturers for a multitude of reasons but here are a couple:
  1. Human Eyes: our eyes are extraordinarily complex and organic so our eyes perceive color differently. They also change over time. There are people that see color more accurately than others but most people haven't tested their color perception
  2. Manufacturing challenges: most companies don't have the technology or environment to produce color perfectly consistently because it's extraordinarily expensive to do so. We have ranges of color we accept, but that range may be unacceptable to some people. 
  3. Knowledge: We take color for granted and don't realize the amount of work it would take to hit color perfectly. Most people don't have the knowledge or tools to set up their work perfectly to give manufacturers the best chance at producing the best color. 
Color is difficult because it's a very subjective, yet when it's wrong it can really hurt your perception of the final product.

Most people aren't too concerned about color but we know that many of our clients rely on us to put our best foot forward so that we're presenting their work in the best possible light. So, we've invested over $30,000 with GMG Color to linearize our color to optimize color. Here's how we approach color now.